"Is it cool for you to have girls in your room," Lorna joked as Jamie unlocked the door to his balcony. "Or will you get in trouble with your Mommy?"
"I'll risk it." He pulled her inside with a quick glance down the three-story, seemingly smooth wall. "How the hell did you get up here?"
"Climbed. While wearing a knee-length skirt and pumps," she smiled proudly. "You mean to tell me you've never had a girl climb in through your bedroom window before?"
"I'm not worth the risk of a broken neck to most women. You do know that we have a front door?"
"Carl and Rachel weren't on my dance card for tonight." Lorna kicked off her shoes, plucked a tissue off the bedside table to clean off her hands, and flopped onto his bed, exhausted. "I wanted to see you, no one else."
"I've been wanting to see you, too," he said, settling next to her, she on her back, he on his stomach, looking down at her. "I'm "
Lorna immediately put her hand over his lips. "Do not say that you're sorry. None of this is your fault. Lucas did what he did and now we're dealing with it, period."
"How?" Jamie asked, gently kissing the tips of her fingers.
"Badly," she confessed. "I am really, really scared. The bail hearing is tomorrow morning. Last I heard, anyway. Felicia's kind of cut me out of the loop."
"What for? When I left the station, she was clinging to you like "
"You know my mother. She does everything big. Either I'm her savior, or I'm the villain. She blames me for Lucas turning himself in. Says I played on his guilt."
Jamie grimaced at the discernible pain in Lorna's eyes. "She's upset, mostly likely even in clinical shock. She didn't mean it. It was just her fear talking."
"Then her fear is pretty damn prophetic. She's right. I did beg him to help "
"Break me out of prison. I know. Lucas told me."
Lorna rolled towards Jamie with new interest. "You talked to him? How was he?"
"Confident that he was doing the right thing. Most definitely not blaming you."
"Damn it. If I had just gone straight to Carl..."
"Lucas would have still been arrested. Because we both know if your father thought you and Carl had so much as brushed up against each other in an elevator, he'd kill him with his bare hands."
"I considered doing that today," Lorna revealed. "Watching Carl sitting so smug and silent in court. I thought about getting up and doing just that."
"I'm glad you didn't," Jamie said. "For one thing, they'd have run out of holding cells." Lorna smiled weakly. "And for another, you wouldn't be here, so I couldn't do this." He lifted her chin with one finger, lowering his face until his mouth could draw in hers, taking his time at last, nuzzling first one lip, then the other, feeling her tongue reach out and probe eagerly for his.
After a few minutes, they each paused to catch their breath, Lorna asking Jamie quietly, "Can I stay with you tonight?"
"You'll forgive me," Matt told John. "If I insist on hearing that from Donna, herself. No offense, Hermes." When John's expression didn't change in response to the insult, Matt condescended, "Hermes was a messenger of the Gods in Greek mythology."
"I may not have gone to prep school, Matt, but I know who Hermes was, thanks." John didn't sound offended or even annoyed. Merely tired.
"He was also the God of liars," Matt's retort harbored a tinge of bet you didn't know that!
"Donna doesn't want to see you," John repeated firmly. "She claims she's told you, both obliquely and directly several times. You refuse to take the hint."
"Did Donna also tell you that I'm committed to sticking by her, no matter what?"
"Does that include her not wanting you to?"
"Donna is just testing me," Matt insisted.
"Are you really that clueless? Or are you just that selfish?"
"Selfish? How am I selfish? Before you decided to stick your nose in where it doesn't belong, I was the only person who came to visit Donna, day in and day out. Marley won't have anything to do with her, she won't let the girls come, and Steven and Kirkland obviously have more important things to worry about. When she does finally get out of here, it'll be a miracle if the whole town doesn't form a lynch mob with torches to go after her, Felicia and Carl leading the charge. At best she'll be a pariah, at worst she'll be in genuine physical danger. Dean called and threatened her life, did you know that? Lorna tried to set the house on fire. I am the only one on her side. And you think it's been easy for me? My family, my friends, they all think I'm nuts. But I'm not letting them scare me off."
"Oh, stuff it. I don't need your praise."
"I think that's exactly what you need. Or, at least, it's exactly what you want."
"Are you accusing me of not being sincere in wanting to help Donna?"
"Not at all. You're painfully sincere. You're ostentatiously sincere. Except it's not about helping Donna. It's about living up to that noble, heroic image of yourself that you've constructed in your head, reality be damned."
"You don't know what you're talking about." Matt spun around and hammered on the door with his fist. "Donna! It's Matt! Let me in! Please!"
"She isn't in there."
"I don't believe you."
"Look for yourself."
Matt did. The room had been stripped clean, all of Donna's personal belongings gone. "Where is she?"
"Getting her release papers processed."
"Donna's been released?" Matt struggled to absorb the news.
"That she remain under medical supervision."
"Whose?" Matt asked, though deep down, he already knew the answer.
"Mine," John confirmed.
"I was kind of counting on you staying," Jamie smiled tenderly, even as Lorna saw the hesitance in his eyes, a flicker of some residual uncertainty and panic.
"Mind out of the gutter, Frame," she chided, trying to keep it light. "Nothing is going to happen here right now. Not under your Mommy and Carl's roof."
"We could always go to the guesthouse. If that's what you'd like."
"Still technically their roof," she reminded. "Would it be okay... I just want you to hold me. To kiss me. Again. Like that. Maybe cop a feel or two. Let me do the same."
"I could do that," Jamie nodded agreeably, sliding the hand from below her chin past Lorna's neck and collarbone until he'd cupped her breast, thumb lightly caressing her nipple through the double layers of cloth.
Lorna inhaled sharply, arching her back and briefly closing her eyes, commending, "That's nice, too..."
Without stopping what he was doing, Jamie noted, "But we will have to talk about it sooner or later. We're adults, for Pete's sake. Adults have sex. Or so I seem to recall."
Sitting up, Lorna shifted Jamie's arm around her shoulder, snuggling up against him. "I want to tell you something. And I don't want you to react until I'm done. Promise me."
"That sounds ominous."
"Please? Just promise not to respond to anything until I've said what I need to."
"Okay. I promise."
"Okay." She braced herself and asked him, "Did you know Victor Rodriguez? From the hospital, about sixteen years ago, right before you left town?" When he didn't say anything, Lorna amended, "You can answer that. Direct questions are exempt."
Jamie grinned. "Yeah, I think so. The AA counselor, right?"
"That's the guy. He worked with Felicia when she was drinking. He and I... we were... on our way somewhere. Somewhere good, I thought. But then stupid stuff happened mostly my fault, big surprise, there. That's when I was raped."
Jamie gagged, the arm beneath Lorna's head beginning to tremble, as only sheer force of will kept him from bolting. Or collapsing. Still, as promised, he didn't say a word.
Lorna hurried on, "When I couldn't remember who did it well, first I accused Morgan, Cass' brother, you know? but I was too drunk to be sure. Then, when I was trying to figure out who really did it, Victor helped me. He reenacted the whole night with me, to jog my sense memory. The only problem was, later, when we tried to make love, everything got so mixed up in my mind, with him and the bastard who actually attacked me, that I couldn't do it. So we broke up. Which seriously sucked because, before Gabe McNamara, and now you, Victor was the most decent guy I ever knew."
Voice hoarse, as if being choked from the inside, Jamie interjected, "Can I talk now?"
"If you want. There's more but... if you want."
"That's what happened with Marley. Before I remembered about Cecile, I had no trouble making love to Marley. But once I did, what Jake did to her... I associated it with me, and with what I'd done, and that was it. No matter how many signals she sent out when I came back to town, I couldn't even entertain the possibility."
"Exactly," Lorna said, grateful that he understood. "I don't want that to happen with us. Which is why, no matter how much I am aching to be close to you right now," Jamie groaned softly at her words and buried his face in her hair. "I am not going to rush things. I am not going to push. When you're ready, you're ready. And until then, I'll just be here, with you, whatever that means, whatever that entails."
Jamie's answer was a kiss to her temple as his arms tightened around her. "We can make out if you want," he whispered in her ear, causing Lorna to smile her first real smile of the interminably long day.
"We could do that," she teased, moving his hand to the spot it had occupied prior to her interruption. "It'll be like high-school. Circa 1950."
Back in Kevin's hotel room after dinner, him dimming the lights in preparation for... well, what one usually prepared for after a date at least in their case; Lila finally got up the courage to blurt out, "Amanda told me you said you were still in love with her."
Kevin paused, fingers on the switch. Ever the lawyer, he thoughtfully considered the question from all possible angles before slowly replying, "I did tell her that, yes."
"Is it true?" Lila, knowing she had no right to ask, went ahead and asked anyway.
"So why am I here?" Lila didn't appreciate the strident tone in her voice any more than he did. And yet she seemed unable to put a lid on it.
"Because I like you, Lila. I was under the impression that you liked me."
"I like you. You like me. But you love Amanda. And she... well, God knows what goes through Amanda's mind most of the time."
"Exactly," Kevin agreed, despite Lila's not knowing what she'd said to prompt it. "I was with Amanda for almost six months. I thought we got each other. I was wrong."
"She dumped you."
"That she did."
"New experience for Mr. Hot Shot Lawyer?" Lila couldn't help teasing.
"Not brand new. But not one I have any interest in growing accustomed to."
"You're scared," Lila realized.
"You're the second woman to tell me that today," Kevin informed her. "That's not an experience I have any interest in growing accustomed to, either."
"So you're with me," Lila guessed. "Because there's no risk of getting hurt?"
"I wouldn't say that." He tapped the back of one shoulder. "I still have the bite marks."
"Very funny," she was more amused than offended by his attempt to change the subject.
"Exactly. You're very funny. And you're fun. And you're beautiful. And we have a good time together. Which was what we both agreed on from the beginning."
"I didn't agree to bring Amanda Cory into bed with us."
"She'll only be here if you bring her along. You have my word on that."
"So you're telling me, if Amanda were to walk in right now and ask you to run away..."
"That's precisely what she did the other night, more or less. And I'm still here. With you. I'm happy with how things are. Ball's in your court, Lila."
"So to speak."
Kevin grinned broadly. "See? I said you were funny."
The next morning, Lorna opened her eyes to find Jamie lying on his side across from her, watching Lorna with a mixture of affection, apprehension and awe.
"You didn't go running off into the night this time," she murmured sleepily. "Progress."
Understanding exactly what she was referring to, he began, "I'm sorry about Carl's "
"No. We agreed, Jamie. No more apologies."
"Just one more," he pleaded, looking so puppy-dog cute, Lorna had to sigh and consent.
"Fine. Go ahead, prostrate yourself."
"Last night, I wasn't exactly at my best. I was so exhausted. It's not how I wanted to "
"We do some of our best work exhausted," Lorna reminded. "Guesthouse kitchen..."
"Last night was nothing like..." Jamie clarified, "That time, I only thought you were the most beautiful, sexy woman I had ever seen "
"Naked in your kitchen?"
" Now, I also understand that you're the best person I have ever known."
"Cut it out." Lorna rolled over and away from him, so that he wouldn't notice how much his words had affected her. "A little necking, some over the clothes petting and you've got me elevated to sainthood? You really have been away from the game for a while."
She sprinted out of bed, pulling her dress on over the bra and panties she'd slept in, like the extra layer might provide protection, both physical and emotional.
He watched her calmly, refusing to respond to the stalling and deflection, understanding why she needed to do it, perfectly content to wait it out as long as Lorna required.
"Jamie?" She perched on the edge of the bed, poised to spring away in an instant if it came to that. "What did my father say to you? In court? To get you to agree to let him confess?"
Jamie cleared his throat. "Lucas said: From the day she was born, I have not done a single thing to make my daughter's life happier, or even a little easier. Please give me the chance to do this for Lorna now."
She futilely attempted to force back unwanted tears. "Crap."
"Lucas loves you. And I know it sounds weird, the situation is hardly optimal. But I think he felt honestly grateful for the opportunity to finally show you how much."
"His bail hearing is today," Lorna sighed and ably deflected yet again. "Cass doesn't think it's going to happen. Too many strikes against him."
"Would you like me to come with you?"
"No! No... The last person Felicia needs to see is...."
"Got it." Jamie hesitated, then suggested, "Call me when you're done? Let me know if you need anything."
"Oh, I'll definitely need something. About six feet tall? Dark hair? Very blue eyes? Know anybody who fits that bill?"
"I'll look around," Jamie offered, deadpan. "See what I can find."
"You do that. Because that good looking guy, he still owes me a date."
"Do you really think that after everything you'll be dealing with today, you'll be in any kind of mood to "
"Hell, yes. Having you to look forward to is about the only thing that could make this day bearable."
"Okay, then," Jamie surrendered. "You've got yourself a deal."
"And you've got yourself a date." On hands and knees, she crawled across the bed to kiss him.
"Hmm..." Her lips moved up from his, toward the sensitive skin below Jamie's ear.
"There's... one more thing. Could you... just for a second... Stop. Please."
"Alright." She shrugged and pulled away. "What?"
"I didn't want to say it last night. I thought it would sound too... in the heat of the moment. And I don't think I should wait until later tonight, because then it might come off as self-serving."
"So far, I'm just getting: Guy who over-thinks stuff." He looked so anxious and thus adorable, it was all she could do not to jump on him again. "What's up, Doc?"
"I wanted to tell you... I wanted to say.... I love you, Lorna."
"Oh." She sank back on her heels like, to borrow her own previously employed metaphor, she'd been popped on the nose with a newspaper. "Oh."
Unoffended, and genuinely not expecting anything in return, Jamie clarified, "Just wanted to put that out there."
He sat up, swung his legs off the bed, stretched, and bent over to fish his discarded pants off the floor, proceeding to pull them on in the ensuing silence.
He was reaching for his crumpled shirt when he felt Lorna's palms brush his shoulders, followed by her mouth at the very tip of his spine, just below his hairline. Her arms came around, tightening across Jamie's chest. She pressed her cheek against his back and, in a voice barely above a whisper, almost in spite of herself, allowed, "I love you, too."
"Where's Dad?" Kirkland asked Rachel as the entire family save Steven, Allie, Lila and Jamie gathered in the dining room for breakfast.
"Still asleep, honey," she began, as the double-doors behind them opened and Lila walked in, having apparently just gotten home but that was none of Rachel's business with Grant Harrison bringing up the rear which most certainly was.
"How about the next best thing?" Grant suggested to his son with such discombobulating magnanimity of spirit that it effectively left his traditional detractors absurdly speechless. "I figured Jamie could use a day to himself to regroup and relax. The weather is perfect for hot-air ballooning. I know a place "
"Ooh, could I go with you, Mr. Harrison?" Jasmine interrupted.
"Me, too?" Cory pleaded.
"Me, three?" Elizabeth jumped in.
"No!" Carl had been fine up to a point. But the sight of Elizabeth beseeching Grant for... anything was more than he could bear; Jamie's taunt I'm just trying to give you perspective, Carl echoing not merely in Carl's ears but down his spine and through every ventricle. He forced himself to assume a deceptively placid countenance, pointing out ever so reasonably, "You all have school today, Kirkland included."
"Carl is right," Rachel said. "But, Grant, would you care to join us for breakfast?"
"Really?" Grant tried and failed to keep the surprise out of this voice.
"Really?" Amanda echoed.
"Really." Rachel personally poured him a cup of coffee and urged him to pull up a chair. "I haven't forgotten what you said in court. You are Kirkland's family. And Kirkland is our family. We'll find a way to make it all work. It's not like," she cogently reminded Amanda, "You haven't been a part of our family before."
"Mom has a point," Matt needled his sister.
"Do I bring up every mistake you've ever made at the breakfast table?" she shot back.
In response to Amanda's head swiveling accusingly in her direction, Lila merely smiled sweetly and said, "Kevin sends his regards."
"Isn't there a back door to this place I can scurry out of?" Lorna asked Jamie when he insisted on walking her home. Via the front stairs.
"You're not the scurrying type."
"But I am the self-preserving."
"What happened to that hot chick who climbed into my bedroom window last night?"
"She's wondering why she didn't think to go out the same way."
"Jamie?" Hearing his voice, Rachel opened the dining room's doors, allowing Lorna to take stock of everyone inside.
Matt and Carl were bad enough, she'd prepared for them. But Grant? Seriously? Grant? Had she wandered into an episode of Lorna Devon, This Is Your Bay City Sex Life? Was it too late to go back in time and fall off the balcony, breaking her neck? That option certainly seemed preferable to this one.
Jamie, for his part, seemed utterly unperturbed by their welcoming committee. He didn't so much as blink when Grant, a delighted smile stretching ear to ear at the sight of Lorna's discomfort, clucked, "Let me guess: This isn't what it looks like?"
Holding Lorna by the hand, Jamie considerately reassured him, "Nope. It's even better." The rest of his family, he briefed, "Good morning, folks. You all know Lorna. I was just walking her out. Bon Appetite."
And they were both gone. Leaving Kirkland to offer the definitive last word for all of the shell-shocked assembled. "Awesome..."
"Oops, sorry." Allie and Gregory rounded the corner on the way to his dorm room and bumped straight into another couple heading in the opposite direction, not realizing until after Allie had hurriedly apologized, that it was Sarah and Steven.
"Hey," Steven, at least, appeared sincerely delighted by the chance collision. "Allie! Good to see you up and about! How you feeling?"
"A lot better. I'm sorry I didn't make it to your dad's party yesterday. It was still a little too much for me."
"No problem. We figured."
"But will you tell Uncle Jamie how happy I am for him?"
"Also, I didn't get a chance to thank you. For what you did for me. Funny, we were in the same hospital, and we never saw each other."
"It's a big hospital. And we both had important stuff to deal with. Besides," Steven reminded. "I didn't do anything. By the time the ambulance got there, Gregory had everything under control."
"Actually," Gregory corrected. "You got there in the nick of time. The only other babies I'd ever delivered got up and stumbled off on all four legs a couple minutes later. I had no idea what I was supposed to do next here."
"Did everything go okay?" Sarah interjected timidly. "With the adoption and stuff?"
Allie nodded. "Hudson is home with his parents now. Want to see a picture?"
"His mom is real big on sending pictures," Gregory explained.
"It doesn't bother you," Sarah asked Allie. "Hearing somebody else being called Hudson's mom?"
"It's who she is," Allie maintained. "She wanted him. I didn't. I'm not going to pretend to feel something I don't, or to be somebody I'm not. What's the point of that, Sarah?"
"Request for bail denied."
Lorna arrived in court just in time to hear the non-negotiable pronouncement, followed by Chase Hamilton's triumphant, "Thank you, Your Honor."
Cass, sitting at the defense table, leaned over to whisper something to Lucas, then tilted his chair to address Felicia, who'd reached as far past the restraining barrier as possible without actually hopping straight over it.
Pushing her way past the swarm of reporters all writing a variation on "Best-Selling Romance Novelist Felicia Gallant's Husband Caught Up in Plot Worthy of Best-Selling Romance Novels," Lorna squeezed into the front pew beside Felicia, as Lucas and Cass turned back to hear the rest of the judge's instructions.
"I'm sorry," she whispered to her mother. "I don't know what happened. I thought the hearing was scheduled for 10:30."
"The judge had an unexpected opening," Felicia dismissed, straining to hear over too many bloggers clicking too many keys in too small a space. "Rescheduled it for ten."
"And nobody thought to tell me?"
"We didn't know where you were."
"I have a cell-phone."
Felicia shrugged. "You're so busy these days. I didn't want to bother you."
"Oh, come on, Mom. You can do better than that."
"Shush. I'm trying to listen."
Jamie's final piece of advice to Lorna before she took off had been, "Keep your head up. Don't punch anybody. And remember, no matter what, Felicia and Lucas love you."
Well, she hadn't punched anybody yet. That had to count for something.
The judge was droning on about scheduling a trial date, ordering the defendant remanded into custody until then.
Court dismissed for the time being, Lucas stood, looking tired but surprisingly upbeat. While Cass tried to keep the guards charged with taking him away at bay for at least a few more minutes, Lucas turned to face Lorna and Felicia. "How are my girls?"
"We're fine," Felicia unexpectedly took Lorna's hand and squeezed it tightly. "Worried to death about you, but otherwise fine."
"I'm counting on you two to take care of each other."
Confused, but nonetheless moved by her mother's sudden change of heart, Lorna covered Felicia's hand with her own, the affectionate gesture visibly relaxing some of the tense lines furrowing above Lucas' eyes. "Don't worry about us, Dad."
Lucas managed to quickly kiss them both before the handcuffs were slapped back on and he was marched away.
"So," Lorna asked Cass. "What happens now?"
"Now," Felicia extricated her hand from Lorna's grasp. "You go back to Jamie, and Cass and I go back to the business of saving your father's life."
Realizing that their earlier show of unity had been just that a show for Lucas' sake, nothing more, Lorna snarled, "I'd suck up being your punching bag, if I thought for a minute that would do my father any good. It won't, Felicia. We need to work together now, not waste our energy fighting. I don't want to fight with you."
"I don't want to fight with you either. I also don't particularly want to see your face right now." There was no malice in Felicia voice, just simple statement of fact. Which, somehow, Lorna found even more devastating. "I can't handle all this and your betrayal, too. You want to help me, Lorna? Leave me in peace. Let me focus on my husband. Allow me to take care of Lucas without any disruption. It's the least that you owe him."
Lorna could have handled another attack. Accusations, finger pointing, hysteria, she'd come prepared for. But, the mother who had fought for her, who'd badgered Lorna for weeks into accepting their relationship, who'd stalked and cross-examined... Felicia was now pushing Lorna away just as hard as Lorna had once denied her. That Lorna couldn't handle. And yet she realized that she would have to.
"I'll leave," she acquiesced thought clenched teeth. "But I'm going to keep checking in. He's still my father."
Felicia shrugged to indicate that she'd heard and that Lorna was welcome to suit herself. Then she turned back to Cass, their heads huddled.
Point by point, Cass took Felicia through what had just happened in court, and what that might mean for Lucas down the line. He assured her that he would get right on preparing a defense, but that a trial might still be months away.
"And Luke will have to stay in jail all that time?"
"Unfortunately." Cass' phone vibrated and he excused himself to check the text message that came in. "Damn, I forgot all about it." He looked at Felicia. "That was Frankie. She reminded me that Lori Ann's baptism was scheduled for today."
"It was..." Felicia startled.
"She's cancelled the party and all the guests, but she wants to know if I think we should go ahead with the church ceremony anyway? I'll tell her to reschedule."
"No!" Felicia grabbed his arm before he had a chance to send the message. "No. Let's go ahead with it. We'll keep it small." She sighed, "Somebody in this family should have a tranquil soul today, don't you think?"
|Receive email notification every time www.anotherworldtoday.com is updated|