Felicia picked up her phone. The voice on the other end sighed and said, "I'm afraid I could really use a drink, right now."
She promised Spencer, "I'm on my way over."
"Good," Kevin looked from Gregory to Amanda, standing on either side of Allie's bed. "I'm glad you're both here."
"They don't have to be," Allie said. "I can do this myself."
"You can deliver a baby by yourself, too," Kevin pointed out. "But would you want to?"
Allie snuck a sideways peek at Gregory. "Guess not," she admitted.
Kevin said, "Rick and Mindy are outside. I've got the adoption papers right here. They can take Hudson home with them as soon as you sign. Are you ready?"
Allie hesitated. She looked at Gregory, who reminded, "You don't have to do that, either."
"He's right," Amanda chimed in. "You don't."
Allie heard them both, and then she told Kevin, "I'm ready."
"Okay," he smiled apologetically at Amanda, who just shrugged, utterly defeated.
Kevin opened the door. Rick and Mindy stood on the other side, looking like they were afraid they'd crashed the wrong party and would be thrown out at any moment.
It was up to Allie to, equally shyly, say, "Come in," and wave her arm to beckon them closer.
They did as she directed. Mindy awkwardly stuck out her hand to Amanda. "I'm Mindy Bauer. This is my husband, Rick. We're "
"My grandson's parents," Amanda interrupted, as if saying the words might be less painful than hearing them from somebody else. It wasn't.
"Hi, Gregory," Rick shook his hand, too. "Heard how you delivered the baby all by yourself. Is Bay City looking at another Dr. Hudson on the horizon?"
"Allie helped a little," Gregory joked, ignoring the second part of Rick's question completely.
Kevin reiterated, "You don't have to do this today, Allie. You can wait."
"I don't want to wait."
"Would you like to see Hudson first?"
"No. I want to sign the papers."
"Alright." Kevin pulled several stapled sheets out of his briefcase, wheeled over the food-tray and laid the first set in front of Allie. "Right there. Right there. And right there." He handed her a pen.
"Allie..." Amanda began, then firmly clamped her mouth shut, only opening it again when she could honestly say, "Whatever you want to do, honey. I'm behind you."
Allie peered at Gregory. He crouched, dipped his head, and kissed her. She smiled and whispered, "Thank you."
"I love you."
"Love you, too."
Allie took the pen Kevin offered and, brows furrowed, signed along every spot he'd indicated.
Mindy couldn't help it. Despite promising herself that she'd stay cool, she couldn't help letting out a sigh of relief after the last stroke had been completed.
Kevin took the document from Allie and handed it to Gregory. "You sign here," he said, indicating a rider specially written just for this contract.
Gregory hesitated. Allie was the one holding her breath this time, understanding just how much she was asking of him.
Ultimately, Gregory signed. So did Mindy, and so did Rick.
"Is that it?" Allie demanded. "Are we all done?"
"We're all done," Kevin said. To Rick and Mindy, he offered, "Congratulations." And to Allie, he commended, "You are a very, very brave girl. Don't let anybody tell you any differently. You did the right thing for your son. He's going to thank you for it someday, mark my words."
"Did you..." Felicia followed Spencer into his living room.
"No," he reassured her.
She eyed his liquor cabinet suspiciously. "You keep alcohol in the house? Is that really a good idea?"
"For guests only. But it's locked. My housekeeper has the key, and she knows not to unlock it for me, ever." He apologized, "I'm sorry I disturbed you, Felicia, getting you to come all the way over. I just had a momentary impulse, and I wanted to make sure..."
"You didn't disturb me. That's what we're here for. I'd expect you to do the same for me if the situations were reversed. Which, the way my life has been going lately... " She flung her purse on the couch and sat down, staring longingly at the cabinet Spencer had assured her was irrevocably locked.
"I never got the chance to express my condolences to you formally about Jenna. I wouldn't presume to say I knew how you felt..."
"Why not? You lost Ryan."
Spencer settled next to her and reminded, "By the time Ryan died, both he and Carl had made it very clear I was no longer welcome in that equation."
"That's another thing we have in common now," Felicia tore her gaze away from the alcohol to note mirthlessly, "We both raised Carl Hutchins' furtive children."
"Has he made any claims on your granddaughter?"
"No, thank goodness. Rachel saw to that. He's been suspiciously hands-off."
"Carl acquiescent. That could drive a person to drink," Spencer joked.
"Well, the wondering what he's plotting certainly could." Felicia paused, then asked, "Would it be inappropriately intrusive of me to inquire what drove you today... "
"Of course not. You have every right." He sighed and rubbed his face with both hands, looking up to confess, "Turns out, I've been living the last few months in a fool's paradise, missing, or maybe simply avoiding, what was right in front of me. Alice Frame. I thought she, somehow not that I deserve it, mind you, I realize that much but nonetheless, I allowed myself to believe, to dare hope that she'd seen something good in me, something worthy of a woman like her. I thought if she could find it, then maybe there was still a spark of decency left."
"I don't know Dr. Frame very well," Felicia admitted. "But what I do know, I'm led to suppose your assumption had to be somewhat close to the mark. Alice is a woman of very high standards."
Spencer laughed. "She was. But I do have a way about me...." Changing the subject, he mused, "And what's been prompting you to spend the past fifteen minutes wondering just how big my housekeeper is and whether you can take her?"
"Was it that obvious?" Felicia winced.
"You dropped what you were doing to drive over here and make sure I didn't take a drink. The least I can do is return the favor. What's wrong, Felicia?"
A long sigh. And then, "Did you know that Lucas was back?"
"I'd heard, yes."
"We decided to pick things up right where we'd left off. I didn't think it would be so hard."
"People change. How long has it been?"
"It isn't that. It isn't that we've changed. If there is anything that Lucas and I are used to, it's decades long separations. The problem is that... Lucas wasn't here for seventeen years. He doesn't realize... To him, Lorna is still that same wounded, angry, vulnerable child that he left behind. He's still trying to make it up to her for mistakes made in 1992, without taking into account what's happened since then. For one thing, Lorna is no child anymore. She's a grown woman who can only blame so much of her bad habits and decisions on what may or may not have happened in her early days. There were mistakes that she made because she didn't know any better, and there were mistakes that she made long past the time when she should have."
"Say my son, for instance?"
"Lucas is so eager to have her forgive him for the way he treated her when we first learned that Lorna was ours, he's willing to give her a pass on everything. And he wants me to do the same. I love my daughter, don't get me wrong. But I expect a certain level of respect and consideration in return. I think I've earned it, even if Lucas believes he hasn't. Maybe he's right about one thing. Maybe I have been ignoring Lorna lately. Although, I must admit, this resentment that she harbors towards Cass as a result of it is a bit ridiculous. Cass isn't to blame for anything. It's like some sort of demented sibling rivalry on Lorna's part. And, in any case, after all the times I've stood by her over the past eighteen years, through the debacle with Morgan in spite of my friendship with Cass, through what she did to Jenna, then the affair with Grant, and Cindy Brooke's homicidal insanity... I think, after all that, I deserve a bit of a pass from her in return."
"Lucas is jealous," Spencer guessed. "He wasn't here to help Lorna with everything you've just described. He's desperate to make all that up to her."
"All that and more," Felicia agreed.
"Again, while I wouldn't presume to claim complete understanding, I am somewhat familiar with such a state of affairs. After a lifetime of making it clear to Ryan that he was the perennial runner-up to Grant, I felt so guilty regarding my involvement with Carl, especially forcing Ryan to arrest and testify against me, only for him to find out I'd been lying all along, that I went a bit overboard in trying to make it up to him."
Felicia nodded. "To be honest, I'm a little scared to find out just how far Lucas would be willing to go in his attempt to make amends with Lorna."
"You're being ridiculous," Lucas dismissed his daughter's request with a scornful laugh, hoping that his refusing to take it seriously might prompt her to do the same.
"Don't tell me you haven't got the skills, or the connections, to make it happen, Dad."
"Busting somebody out of the state penitentiary is not the same thing as moving a few props around or wiping off an incriminating set of fingerprints."
"Jamie doesn't deserve to go to jail for the rest of his life."
"Does he deserve to spend it on the run? Living off the grid, always looking over your shoulder, permanently separated from the people you love... What about Jamie's kids?"
"He wasn't planning on parenting from prison. He was going there to die, no more no less."
"He still could have seen them, talked to them, been a part of their lives. Going on the lam means totally severing all contact with his family and friends. That's its own kind of purgatory. Trust me, sweetheart, I know."
"When you were given a choice between being a prisoner in a cell and a prisoner with a view, which one did you pick?"
"It's not the same. I made a deal with my jailers; people who, for the record, were not nearly as concerned with the rule of law as the folks Jamie is dealing with. I didn't try to break free and make a run for it, because if I had, they would've..." he cut himself off, refusing to finish the sentence. "I put in my time. I earned my freedom. Jamie can well do the same."
"So, let me get this straight," Lorna's tone turned steelier with every word. "It was fine and dandy for you to take the law into your own hands to punish Donna for killing Jenna. But when I ask you for some less than legal help, suddenly your taste for vigilante justice has left the building?"
"Don't do this, Lorna. Do not turn this into a competition over which daughter I love more. I know that tends to be your default posture, but you are not going to guilt me into doing something we both know is fundamentally impractical. Be honest. Even if we were to somehow break Jamie out, just how long do you think he'd last on the run alone?"
"He wouldn't be alone," Lorna replied in an oh-didn't-I-mention-that-part-before tone. "I'd go with him. I'd be the brains. And the brawn."
"And the beauty, too?" Now Lucas certainly refused to take this seriously.
"I'd take care of him," she swore.
"The hell you will. I won't lift a finger to help Jamie if you intend to be a part of this."
"Fine. I'll ask Carl, then. He knows more people anyway. And I bet he'd love to score some points with Rachel."
"Stop it. You're not this naive. No one who spent a decade with Carl could be this naive."
"I'm not naive. I'm desperate. Same way you were about Donna. Jamie has his reasons for not going to trial and defending himself. I've got my reasons for not asking you to turn yourself in to save him. I wouldn't do that to Felicia."
"But you'll go to Carl for help? You'll go on the run with a man you barely know "
"I know him, Dad," Lorna said softly.
"And just what do you think that little stunt would do to Felicia? You claim she couldn't bear losing me? What about losing you? You are the only child she has left. She "
"Barely notices I'm alive. She'll be fine as long as she has good old Cass, Lori Ann, and you."
"Cut the rationalizations, Lorna. She spent years mourning you the first time. Are you willing to put her through that again? How is Felicia supposed to sleep at night, knowing that you're out there somewhere, coupled to a man with a target on his back?"
"We'll be okay," Lorna reassured. "I've lived on the streets before. Damn it, I am trying to do the best I can for everyone. You, Felicia, Jamie, and me. I'm asking you I'm begging you for help. Please, Daddy. Please."
Lila let out a low whistle as she surveyed Grant's living room, deserted save for the Happy Birthday balloons floating a little lower now than when she'd first supervised their arrangement.
"Not good," she muttered, heading up the stairs to where she suspected her sulking employer would most likely be holed up.
"I don't want to talk about it," Grant said as soon as Lila stepped through the doorway of his indoor putting room; a space which Lila took upon herself to have done as both an acknowledgment of his golf obsession as well as with the hope that it, and not the study or any other expensively decorated parts of the house, would become his 'time out' room whenever another inevitable tantrum erupted.
"I'm sorry, Grant," Lila ventured carefully. "Maybe in a few weeks we can try doing something for Kirkland again. How about a pool party? It should be warm enough by then."
"His birthday is today."
"His daddy is going to prison today."
"Is he now? Thanks for telling me. I was wondering why my son stole the car I bought him and drove it all the way downtown to the courthouse."
"Kirkland stole a car?"
Grant hacked at another golf ball. "To see that sniveling wimp he calls a father."
Lila chuckled. "Determined little bugger."
"That's one word for it," Grant snapped.
"Kirkland loving Jamie is hardly news," Lila observed. "What's really got you in here, bending your expensive golf clubs out of shape?"
"He doesn't trust me," Grant admitted. "He thinks I'll leave him again. That ultimately he can't count on me for anything beyond expensive gifts and disappointment."
"Ten years of abandonment isn't going to just go away overnight. Or even over a year," Lila stated what to her seemed like the obvious, but apparently came as news to Grant. "Especially now. To Kirkland, losing Jamie probably feels like losing you and Vicky all over again."
"So Jamie gets himself sent to prison, and I'm the one who has to suffer for it?"
"Silly me, now here I thought Kirk was the one who's suffering. Oh, and, as a matter of fact, yes, Grant. Yes, you're going to suffer for it. Because that's what being a parent is, you fool. Hurting when your baby is hurting. And then sucking up your own feelings in order to support him through it."
"Kirkland doesn't want my support."
"Did I say fool? I meant imbecile. Are you really so clueless that you don't realize Kirkland is a teen-age boy? He'd rather boil in oil than flat-out ask for what he needs from you, even if he knew what that was, which, again, teen-age boy not likely."
"So what am I supposed to do?"
"You're supposed to be the parent and let him be the child, not vice-versa."
"Is there a manual I can read?"
"You mean Parenting After Coming Back From the Dead for Dummies? I haven't stumbled across a copy at Barnes & Noble, no. But maybe you and Frankie can collaborate. With an introduction by Carl and an Epilogue by Lucas. In the meantime, you'll just have to make it up as you go along."
"And if I can't?"
"Then you're not as smart as you think you are. And Kirkland isn't as important to you as you claim."
"If you think that maligning two of the three things I hold most sacred about myself is the way to motivate me... "
"Then I am correct."
"Then you are correct," he sighed ruefully.
"Just doing my job as your best lady friend. Of the unpaid, non-professional kind." She prodded, "Are you going to tell me what the third thing is?"
"It works better as a hands on demonstration." The sparkle was back in Grant's eye.
"Gotcha." Lila changed the subject. "Now that we've gotten that straightened out, how about giving your putter a rest and taking me out to dinner?"
"Don't tell me you've gotten bored with Kevin already?"
"Kevin and I are doing just fine, thank you very much. But he's working tonight. Allie had her baby. He's helping her give it away."
"Amanda?" Kevin opened the door to his hotel room, surprised to find her standing on the other side. "What's wrong? Is Allie okay?"
"She's fine," Amanda said. When Kevin made no move to step aside, Amanda asked, "May I come in?"
He opened the door, then closed it behind her. They surveyed each other for a few moments, Kevin waiting for her to get to the point, and Amanda pondering the exact best way to do just that.
Finally, she complimented, "You were amazing with Allie today. You knew just the right thing to say to her."
He shrugged. "It's what I do."
"Does anybody ever take you up on your offer to change their minds?"
"Once in a while. Maybe, say, five percent of the time."
"And you just let them do it?"
"Sure. I'm happy to take care of it. It's devastating to the adoptive parents, of course, but better the birth mother takes her baby back then and there, rather than in six months. Or six years..."
The way he said it prompted Amanda to ask, "How old were you when..."
"I thought so."
"Look, Amanda, I'm not trying to be rude, honestly. But, what is the point of this? Did Allie send you? Do you have some question for me about the adoption or Rick and Mindy?"
Amanda shook her head. She took a step closer and, before Kevin had a chance to say anything more, popped up on her toes, pressing her lips to his.
"You can't subpoena witnesses to testify at a sentencing," Cass lectured Mike.
"I wasn't aware I suggested you could. Or that I intended to do so," Jamie's lawyer countered politely. "I simply asked your wife to come and speak on her cousin's behalf."
"She," Frankie reminded archly, "Is standing right here."
"I think you'd be a great help to him, Mrs. Winthrop," Mike persisted. "You have a unique, to say the least, perspective on Cecile."
"I don't think Jamie would particularly appreciate my help," Frankie said with regret. "We're not exactly on the best of terms these days."
"At the moment, he isn't appreciating my help, either. I'm afraid I've set up this hearing over my own client's objections. If Jamie had his way, he'd go straight to jail."
"That settles it, then," Cass tried maneuvering Mike towards the door. "Frankie should hardly feel obliged to testify when Jamie himself doesn't want it to happen."
"You're right," Mike said. "She should only feel obliged to testify if she actually cares about her cousin not going to prison for the rest of his natural life."
"Oh, cut it out," Cass ordered. "Oldest lawyer trick in the book. I'm blissfully immune."
"How nice for you. I was talking to your wife."
Happy that at least someone was, Frankie conferred with Cass, "Who can it hurt for me to answer a few questions?"
"It can hurt you, that's who. It can hurt us."
"Do you know something?" Mike asked. "Something that could help Jamie?"
"I know that Cecile kidnapped and tortured my wife over a period of many years. I know that reliving that time, being cross-examined about it, will in no way be helpful to her mental state which, frankly, isn't too great right now due to the murder your client committed!"
"Cass!" Frankie gasped, horrified. "You don't think Jamie "
"Why else would he have turned himself in?"
"I I don't know."
"Why else would he be fighting his own lawyer? Jamie wants this all to be over. Why don't you?"
"Because I know what it's like to deal with Cecile, alright?"
"And you think I don't?"
"Not like this. Not the way Jamie and I did. Maybe he did kill her, Cass, okay?"
"Maybe he did. But if he did, I understand what drove him to it. And if I can help shave even a few years off Jamie's sentence by explaining that motivation to a judge, then it's the least I can do."
"You're making a mistake."
"It's my mistake to make."
"No! When are you going to stop this, Mary Frances? When are you going to finally understand that unilateral decisions are a sure-fire way to "
"To what?" she asked softly.
He lowered his tone to match hers. "Please don't do this, Frankie."
"Because I'm asking you not to. For me. Is that a good enough reason? Please don't do this... for me."
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