Without a word, barely looking at each other, really, Lorna and Lucas walked out of the courthouse and into the park across the street. They both instinctively headed for the bench furthest away from the city's foot-traffic, only sitting down after glancing around in all four directions to ensure they couldn't be overheard.
"How much do you know?" Lucas forced himself to ask with a sigh.
"Only that you're involved. Somehow. Carl took great pleasure in telling me your name. Jamie, on the other hand, wouldn't let me so much as say it out loud after I demanded to know if his turning himself in had to do with me or you. And then, when you showed up at the courthouse for no reason that I could see except..."
"So," Lucas realized that he was stalling. He told himself it was because he needed to thoroughly understand the situation before he could decide what to do about it. "You and Jamie?"
"Me and Jamie," Lorna agreed, declining to elaborate further.
"How did that happen?"
"It hasn't. Happened. Not really. Yet."
She blushed. His daughter actually blushed. Obviously, this involvement was more... involved... than Lucas had dared imagine. God help them all.
Lorna explained, "We're kind of having problems getting out of the gate. If it isn't Grant and Kirkland's custody case, then its Jamie's marriage of convenience to Marley. If it isn't Donna's breakdown, it's "
"Jamie being blackmailed by his ex-wife, then getting entangled in her murder," Lucas got the gist. "I.e. complicated."
"But nothing worth having comes easy, right?" she asked with a desperate eagerness.
"And you think that Jamie is worth...?"
"Sending my father to prison in his place?" In response to Lucas' astonishment at her bluntness, Lorna apologized, "Sorry. I was never particularly good at tap dancing."
"Sweetheart, I did not kill Cecile. You have my word on that."
"So who did?"
"I don't know. Carl swears by specialists. I would guess he hired someone."
"What do you mean, you guess? You weren't there? You didn't see it happen?"
"No. I didn't even know it was going to happen, until after the fact. All I did was leap on the opportunity to make certain that Donna paid for what she'd done to our Jenna."
"So you just staged the scene?"
"Yes. I swear to you, yes."
"To frame Donna?"
"So how the hell did Jamie get sucked into this?"
"I don't know. I had no idea she was blackmailing him."
"And the vial with his fingerprints?"
"I didn't know that either. A rotten coincidence. Bad luck. If I had to guess, I'd say that my source stole it from Bay City Hospital. It's a piece of medical equipment. At some point, Jamie probably came in contact with it."
"Carl could have known," Lorna speculated. "Carl has a way of... knowing things."
"Why would he want to frame Jamie? Donna was his target. That's the only reason I ever agreed to "
"How could you?" she wondered. "How could you let him use you like that? Again? You did the dirty work, while he sat back, hands all lily-white, and enjoyed the carnage from afar! He made you his puppet!"
"I'm no one's puppet, Lorna. And I'm nobody's fool. Carl didn't make me do anything. He and I shared the same goal. He gave me the chance "
"To go to prison in his place if the truth ever comes out. Felicia just got you back, and now she could lose you all over again. How could you do this to her? She would be devastated if she... Unless..." Lorna had an even more horrible thought. "Is Felicia in on this, too?"
"No," Lucas vehemently shook his head. "She doesn't know anything. And I plan to keep it that way."
"Oh, great, Dad, thanks a lot. Now that makes two big whoppers I'm helping you keep from Felicia. Are you trying to make it so I can never say another honest word to my mother again?"
"I'm sorry, sweetheart." Lucas knew the language was inadequate, but it was all he had. "I'm sorry you got pulled into this mess. I never intended for any of this to happen."
"Yeah, well, you remember what they say about the road to hell and good intentions. How long do you think you can keep this from getting out? Carl knows. What happens if he thinks he needs to throw you to the wolves to protect himself?"
"I'm not worried about Carl. If I go down, he goes down with me. He'll keep his mouth shut. Jamie, on the other hand..."
"You're worried about Jamie ratting you out? Did the man not turn himself into the cops this morning?"
"He did. But now that those thirty years in prison are staring him in the face... I bet pointing the cops in another direction is starting to look pretty damn good."
"Jamie would never throw another person under a bus to save himself," Lorna recalled his refusal to drug Frankie on Cecile's orders. "Trust me, it won't happen."
"How can you be so sure?"
"I know him," she said simply. "He'll go to prison to protect the people he cares about. It's not just you in this case. He's a well-intentioned sap that way."
"I wouldn't have pegged sap, well-intentioned or otherwise, as your type."
"Me neither," she smiled weakly. "But here I am. In love with a sap about to go to prison."
"You love him?" Lucas double-checked. "What happened to the two of you not making it out of the gate yet?"
She sighed and, for the first time, looked actually happy. "A lot can happen while you're waiting at the gate, Dad."
"Does Jamie know how you feel?"
"He's a little preoccupied at the moment. We've had other issues to chat about."
"I'm sorry, sweetheart."
"I believe that you are."
"If there was anything I could do to somehow make this right for both you and Jamie..."
"Actually, there is," Lorna straightened as a thought spontaneously came to her. "We know you can dress a crime scene. How are you at staging jail-breaks?"
Amanda stood at the door to Allie's hospital room and listened as Kevin told her, "The law stipulates that you have up to six months to change your mind, but I am telling you from a lifetime of experience, you do not want to do that. You don't want to do it to the Bauers, you don't want to do it to your baby, and you do not want to do it to yourself. The best thing for everyone is for you to be certain now. And if the answer is no, nobody will judge you. You can tell me you've changed your mind and I will turn right around, go out there, and break it to Rick and Mindy. You don't need to be scared. If you want to back out, I will make certain you never have to see or hear from them again. I will take care of everything. But you have to tell me what you want. Which means you have to choose what you want. The sooner the better."
She cleared her throat awkwardly, drawing their attention. Kevin smiled and rose from his chair. "Amanda! Perfect. Just in time. I was hoping you'd be here to help Allie with this."
"I I'm not certain Allie wants my help."
"I don't need it," Allie said, albeit not belligerently, merely as a statement of fact. "I've made up my mind." She informed Kevin, "I still intend to go through with the adoption. Tell Rick and Mindy they can take Hudson home as soon as the doctors say its okay."
"Do you want to talk to them first?"
Allie hesitated. "Them? Yeah. But I don't want to see the baby. Not yet. Maybe later, when he's all settled and... stuff. Is that okay?"
"Anything you want to do is okay," Kevin reassured. "Right now, it's still all about you. But, understand this, Allie, the minute you sign those papers, it becomes all about Hudson. I am your lawyer, and I hope you think of me as your friend. I will do anything you ask to make this as easy and as comfortable for you as possible. But once you hand Hudson over to the Bauers, his welfare becomes my priority. He's my client, too."
Allie nodded. "I get that."
"Good. I'll go talk to Rick and Mindy." He turned to ask, "Think you can stay until this is all settled, Amanda? Shouldn't take very long, I have the papers already drawn up."
"I " Amanda looked at her daughter nervously. "I don't know if Allie wants me to..."
"It's okay. You can stay, I guess. If you want."
"I'll stay," Amanda said.
Kevin smiled, pleased, from one to the other. "I'll be back as soon as I can."
"Thanks," Allie called after him.
"Yes," Amanda chimed in. "Thank you, Kevin."
"It's my job," he shrugged, good-natured, and stepped out the door.
Leaving them alone. And, despite everything that had happened in the last twenty-four hours, still without a whole lot to say to each other.
Amanda settled on the chair Kevin had vacated. She wanted to reach out and stroke her daughter's hair or, at the very least, take her hand. But she hesitated to guess how either gesture would go over, and so refrained.
Instead, Amanda ventured, "It must have been horrible for you, delivering like that. I am so, so sorry, Allie."
"I never imagined it would hurt that bad," Allie admitted. "Not in a million years. And there are people who choose to go it all natural? Are they out of their minds? How does anybody ever have more than one kid? I totally get you now."
Amanda reminded, "I had you in the hospital. With an epidural. That wasn't why... "
"You only had me," Allie smiled. "I know. I was just teasing."
"I feel like I should be apologizing to you. But I don't know where to start."
"This," Allie indicated her current situation. "Isn't your fault."
"Some of it is."
"You did your part. You gave me the safe sex lectures. Boy, did you give me the safe sex lectures. I think I was the only kid who wasn't allowed to have Ken spend the night in Barbie's Dream House. And you took me to the doctor to get birth-control pills. And you bought me a packet of condoms to keep in my purse. I screwed up here. Not you."
"I'm the reason you're giving your baby up for adoption, Allie."
"Yeah, you are." She shrugged.
Amanda snorted. "Way to let me off the hook, Al."
"There's no hook, Mom. I made a mistake, and I came up with a way to fix it."
"I'd help you, you know. The whole family would. We'd help you raise him. You could still go to school, date, have a life."
"A normal life?" Allie challenged
"Oh, what's normal in Bay City?"
"Normal is what I want Hudson to have. A mom, a dad, he's going to have an older brother and sister, too. They're going to live in the same house his dad grew up in. The same house his granddad grew up in. He's going to have stability. He's not going to be dragged all over the world "
"I thought you liked traveling with me!"
"He's going to have a good life with the Bauers. And he's going to know that they wanted him more than anything in whole world."
"I'm sorry, Allie," Amanda finally had her entry-point. "I'm sorry I couldn't make you feel that way."
"You tried. I know you tried. And... you did a better job than Dad."
"Oh, there's some terrific damning with faint praise."
"When you and Dad were in my shoes, you made one choice. I made a different one."
"I just don't want you to go through life regretting your decision, Allie."
"You mean, like you did, Mom?"
Sitting in the driver's seat, Grant pulled the sports-car he'd given Kirkland into the Love mansion's driveway and, with a brisk flip of his wrist, cut the ignition.
But even before the engine had settled, his son was pushing open the passenger-side door, one foot on the ground.
"No." Grant lunged bodily across the gearshift, grabbing Kirkland by the wrist and pulling him back inside. "Not until we talk."
"Let go of me," he struggled.
In response, Grant smacked the console button, locking both doors. The boy fumed, though Grant didn't let that keep him from accusing, "You ran away."
"I left the house," Kirkland corrected.
"You didn't have permission."
"I need permission to leave the house now?"
"You need permission to drive down a city street. There's something called a license, Kirkland. Have you heard of it? Probably not, as you currently don't have one."
"And still I made it down to the courthouse just fine. Go figure."
"What if you hadn't?" Grant's irritation tinged with a good deal of fear at the possibility bubbled over. "What if you'd had an accident? What if you'd hurt yourself? What if you'd hurt someone else?"
"Then they could have given me the cell next to Dad's, and maybe then he'd talk to me."
"Please let me help you, Kirkland," Grant begged and, remembering Marley's earlier words, ventured, "I understand that you're hurting. I saw the look on your face when Jamie turned his back "
"I'm getting used to it. Steven did the same thing. Hell, I don't even know where he is right now. And then I get evicted from Grandma's house..."
"You weren't evicted from Rachel's. Marley just thought it would be better for you not to be constantly reminded of Jamie's absence. But, you know what, if you don't want to stay here, there's always your room at my house..."
"You've just been waiting to spring that one on me, haven't you?"
"What? No, Kirkland, I swear, I was on board with you staying here. I just thought if it upset you so much... Help me out here, son; honestly, I don't know what to say right now that won't make you angrier. What do you need from me? I'll do it."
"I need you to drop the sympathetic Dad act. It doesn't really play after your ten year, island-paradise vacation. At least when he dumped me, Jamie didn't make me think he was dead, too."
"I'm here for you now," Grant said quietly, struggling to recover from Kirkland's words.
"Who cares? You can't replace Jamie for me. Just like he couldn't replace you."
"I know. I think that I finally understand it would be foolish of me to try," Grant said with complete sincerity. "But I repeat, I am here now, and I love you, and I intend to remain here for as long as you need me."
Kirkland's skeptical snort was another cut to the quick. "Sure. Till the next beach season rolls around."
"You have to promise me, John," Donna dictated. "You have to give me your word that you will not repeat anything of what I tell you here to anyone, ever."
"Not a problem. Doctor/patient confidentiality," he reminded.
"No. Not good enough." Even locked up against her will in a mental hospital, Donna had no qualms about setting her own terms. "I want your word as my friend."
John hesitated. "As your friend, as a member of your family, I can't swear that if what you tell me makes you a danger to Marley or the kids..."
"It doesn't. It won't. The only way it could hurt them, would be if you were to tell."
"You're talking in riddles, Donna."
"How well do you remember my parents?" she asked him, changing the subject abruptly.
John sighed grimly. "Reginald was pretty unforgettable."
"What about my mother? Do you remember her?"
"Your mother? Did I ever meet your mother? Yeah, I guess I did. At the stables once or twice when I came to visit Michael. She didn't make much of an impression. She kind of blended into the woodwork. But I guess anyone would, besides Reginald. Or you. You," John observed. "Are definitely your father's daughter, no question about that."
"That's what everybody thinks," Donna agreed. "But they're all wrong. I learned a lot from Reginald. I learned how to put myself first. I learned how to manipulate, how to use, and to do it all with a smile. I learned how to get by from my father. But I learned how to survive from my mother."
John stared at Donna quizzically. "I thought Reginald killed her."
"Physically. When I was about 18. He went after her with a gun, but, lucky for him, she was so drunk she fell and her cigarette set the curtains on fire. Police ruled it a suicide. Which is funny since, to my mind, she'd been dead for years before that. The inquest just made it official." A pause, and then another abrupt chance of subject. "If I were to ask you to describe what I was like when we met, what would you say?"
"Beautiful," John answered without hesitation.
Donna quoted his own words back to him. "Don't flirt with me, John."
"I'm sticking with beautiful. Also headstrong. Vivacious. Bold. Calculating. Spoiled."
"I'll give you the beautiful," Donna said. "And the calculating. But everything else... you couldn't be more wrong. Bold? As far back as I can remember, I have been terrified of everything. My brother, Peter, was the same way. We used to cower in our rooms whenever our parents would fight. If anyone unfamiliar came to the house, we'd hide, because we never knew if they might set Reginald off on one of his rages. We were afraid of loud noises and storms and horses and the dark and basically anything we couldn't control. They reminded us too much of Reginald."
"That's not uncommon with abused children. You and Peter certainly were that."
"The big difference between Peter and I, however, was that he let Reginald glimpse his fear. I never did. I saw how Reginald used it. To degrade Peter and belittle him and ultimately turn Peter into his pawn, one so desperate for Reginald's approval that he would do anything to get it, even at the cost of his own self-respect."
"I seem to remember you doing a good bit of that yourself where Peter was concerned."
"It was the only way to deal with him," Donna dismissed. "He didn't understand anything else. He'd been conditioned. Like a salivating dog with a bell."
John let the remark pass unchallenged. Now wasn't the time. He figured a single wrong word now, and Donna would withdraw again, maybe permanently.
She waited for John to comment. When he didn't, she went on, buoyed, "I vowed never to give Reginald the satisfaction of seeing me scared. I learned that from my mother. She had thoughts. She had feelings and passions. And she kept them utterly locked away from him. I don't think a sincere word or sentiment ever crossed her lips one time during their entire marriage. Reginald sensed it, but he couldn't prove it. Or do anything about it. It drove him absolutely insane to know there was a part of her he could never access. One he couldn't bully or beat out of her. Try as he might. It was her one bit of power over him. And I was determined to have the same thing. I was scared of everything, but I made him believe I was scared of nothing. I kept myself to myself, and I created a whole other persona for everyone else."
"A whole other..." John blanched.
"Not like Sharlene," Donna said quickly, to put his mind at ease. The poor man looked absolutely horrified, which wasn't her intention at all. "Sharlene's multiple personalities were something she had no control over. She didn't even know they existed. My choice was completely conscious, completely deliberate. I simply resolved to act in the exact opposite of everything I felt. That way, nobody could get to me. Nobody could ever know the real Donna. Which meant nobody could ever hurt her."
"Did it work?" John wondered. "Did it really protect you from getting hurt?"
"In a way. Oh, there was a drawback to my plan, unfortunately. I couldn't just be one Donna for Reginald, and one for everyone else. That was too hard; I'd need a flow-chart just to keep track. So I simplified things. I created the Donna Love everyone expected. Headstrong and spoiled and snobbish and frivolous and self-centered and bold. I was exactly who everyone assumed Reginald Love's daughter would be. So nobody questioned it. You wanted to know why I slept with you forty years ago? It's because everyone and by everyone, I mean Reginald, the only person who really mattered expected me to be nothing but a whore, like my mother. So I lived up to expectations. It was easier that way. I slept with the brother of the man I supposedly loved. Reginald was most pleased. He adored being right."
For a long moment, John didn't say anything at all. And then, slowly, he offered, "Thank you, Donna. Thank you for trusting me with this."
"Oh, there's more. Lots more. I'm just getting started," she promised. "You haven't heard the best part yet."
Sarah waited until she'd seen both Kevin and Amanda exit Allie's room before she poked her head in.
Allie looked up. "What are you doing here?"
"I I was visiting Steven. He's on another floor. They wanted to keep him overnight at the hospital for observation. His body temperature dipped real low. They wanted to make sure he didn't get hypothermia or anything."
"Is he okay?"
"He's got a pretty bad cold. That's another thing. Don't want it to turn into pneumonia."
"I didn't get a chance to thank him yet."
"You've been kind of busy," she joked.
Allie was in no mood to respond in kind. "What do you want, Sarah?"
"Yeah, good luck with that."
"I was a bitch to you. I'm sorry."
"A bitch? A bitch is telling me I look fat in my new outfit. A bitch is coming on to my boyfriend, or dumping me to find my own ride home when we're out clubbing so you can hook up with some hot guy. You weren't a bitch, Sarah. You broke my heart."
"I didn't think it was that big of a deal!" she defended.
"How long have we known each other? Since we were little kids. And what, from the time that we were little kids, was the one, single consistency either one of us had in our lives? Your parents split up and got back together and split up again and married other people. My parents split up and got back together and married other people. Your mom dragged you all over the world. My mom dragged me all over the world. Your dad forgot you existed, then swept back in dropping money to make up for it. My dad forgot I existed and, heck, he didn't even try the money route. GQ dumped me; you didn't get the fellowship you worked your butt off for. Crap happened. But at least we had each other. We could cheer each other up when nobody else could. We counted on each other. Or, at least, I counted on you. And then, one day, you just decided to pull the rug out from under me. No warning, no explanation, you were just gone. I didn't know what I did wrong, what I did to deserve it. And I didn't know what I was going to do without you."
"You had Gregory."
"It's not the same thing. You were my best friend, Sarah. I needed you. At the very least, I needed to know what the hell happened with us. You didn't give me a chance to defend myself. A friendship is two people. And you made the choice to end it for both of us."
"I was scared! I didn't plan to fall for Steven. It was all supposed to be a game, remember? A stupid bet. And maybe I didn't even fall for him. Maybe I just fell for the girl I convinced him I was. But I liked seeing myself through his eyes. You know what he called me, once? Clear. Straightforward. Direct. He said his entire life, everyone had been scheming and lying all around him "
"That's true. He had it rough. Vicky. Grant. Spencer. Donna. And now this mess with Uncle Jamie..."
"He said I was unambiguous and honest. That I didn't play games. He said that I was like the Internet. Something he didn't know he desperately needed until he got it, and now he can't imagine living without me."
"You're like the Internet?" Allie repeated, dumbfounded. "That's Steven's idea of romance? Comparing you to the Internet?"
"You kind of had to be there."
"You dumped me for a guy who, instead of comparing you to say, a summer's day, compared you to the Internet?"
"I love him. And he loves me."
"He loves the person you're pretending to be."
"Are you going to tell him?" Sarah asked.
Allie smiled grimly. "So that's why you're really here. You didn't come to apologize. You came to find out if I'm going to keep my mouth shut."
"I came for... both."
"The answer is no," Allie said.
"No? No, what?"
She smiled again, this time with a trace of malice. "Guess."
Despite Mike's call telling her that Jamie had refused all visitors, Rachel was still on her way down to the courthouse when she ran into Carl, coming home through the front door.
He dropped his suitcase in the hall and told her, "I heard about Jamie. I returned as soon as I could. Has there been any new word?"
Rachel shook her head, hugging him tightly and summing up, "He disappeared for twenty-four hours. I was going out of my mind with worry. I even accused Spencer of sending Kevin to get Jamie drunk so they could spirit him away."
"Not an unreasonable hypothesis."
"Well, I guess I owe him and Alice an apology. Jamie came back of his own accord, turned himself in. Unfortunately, due to the delay, Hamilton has rescinded his offer of a reduced sentence, and we're back to looking at thirty years in prison."
"How terribly unsporting," Carl observed. "Would you like me to have a few words with our esteemed District Attorney? Perhaps demonstrate to him the error of his ways?"
"No!" Rachel shouted louder than she'd intended to, then hurriedly lowered her voice, lest the children were in hearing range. "No. That's the last thing I... " She confessed, "When I went to see Spencer, Alice was there. No surprise. She's perennially there, these days. I'm amazed her patients at the hospital aren't dying in droves. Anyway, she defended Spencer. She told me that he was the one who... convinced... Hamilton to reduce Jamie's sentence in the first place. I can only imagine how he accomplished it. Perhaps an all-expense paid weekend to the compound in Canada did the trick."
"No," Carl answered automatically. "Most trips to the compound are one-way..."
Rachel gave him a strange look. Carl shrugged apologetically. Rachel went on, "Well, in any case, Spencer did whatever it was that Spencer does to make it happen. I couldn't believe Alice went along with it. This is the woman who used to advocate the death penalty for white lies and income tax evasion. She threw it in my face that she would do anything to protect Steve's son. And then she asked me why my what did she call you? equally as felonious, equally as well connected, equally as devoted husband didn't offer to do the same for Jamie. And why I didn't think to ask?"
"Intriguing," Carl responded neutrally and meaninglessly, his countenance displaying nothing beyond appropriate concern and curiosity. Rachel was clearly going somewhere with this. But he refused to jump the gun and make any sort of assumptions.
"She doesn't understand," Rachel dismissed. "She doesn't understand because Spencer is... he's not like you."
"I should hope not," Carl snarled.
"Spencer has never expressed one iota of remorse for anything he's done. He's proud of his shady connections. He considers them an accomplishment, a badge of honor. What he did for Alice, under the guise of helping Jamie, was merely another con. It's hardly my fault that Alice is too naive to see it. I did my part; I genuinely tried to warn her about what she was getting into. And it's because she can't see the difference between Spencer and you, that she can't understand why I would never could never ask you for that sort of help. You're not part of that world anymore. No matter how much it may still pull at you. I'm not blind, Carl. I know how excruciating it's been for you to stand back and let the law go after Donna, instead of taking matters into your own hands. I know you want revenge. I'd want it too, in your circumstances. But you've refrained. For me and for Cory and Elizabeth, and for Felicia and Lori Ann, too, you've refrained. I love you so much for that, I can't put it into words. I tied your hands when it came to Jenna. I can hardly be a hypocrite now and ask you to turn around to help me with Jamie. It would be like forcing a drink on an alcoholic. I wouldn't do that to you. Not even to save my son."
Carl remained silent, his breathing even, his expression sympathetic. Finally, he said, "I've lost two sons myself. And a daughter I never even knew. If there were any way I could spare you that sort of pain... "
"Not at the expense of your soul, Carl." She forced herself to remain optimistic. "Jamie isn't lost yet, not completely. Mike Bauer is an excellent lawyer. He's been pushing from the beginning for this case to go to trial. Maybe having the shorter deal revoked will be just the jolt Jamie needs to get off this self-destructive path he seems determined to plant himself on, and fight, finally fight for his life."
"It wounds me to see you like this, Rachel," he told her sincerely. "What if," he pressed again, "What if there were, in fact, something that I could do to help Jamie?"
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