"Mr. Fowler?" She got up from the defense table and approached Kevin across the aisle. This early in the morning, they were the only ones inside the courtroom, both setting out their materials in preparation. "I'm Stacey Winthrop. Dr. Winthrop's attorney. And his sister."
"How do you do?" Kevin shook her hand.
"I'm fine. I trust you received our witness list with no problems?"
"Everything seems in order."
"Good, good." She was about to turn back when curiosity got the best of Stacey and she felt compelled to inquire, "Mr. Fowler, may I ask you a question?"
"I'm familiar with your work. You've been very broadly published. But, as far as I can dig up, you've always come down on the side of a woman's right to choose. How can you possibly be arguing Dr. Frame's "
"Very simple. I believe that a woman's right to choose hinges on her being conscious at the time. Call me old-fashioned." The doors swung open behind them as Jamie entered. Kevin waved him over, guessing, "I presume you already know Ms. Winthrop."
"We've met," Jamie said wryly.
"And been engaged," Stacey filled in.
"My, this is a small town," Kevin sighed as he stepped away to complete his prep work.
"How are you, Stacey?" Jamie asked. "How are the kids?"
"Demanding. Overwhelming. Exhausting. Perfect."
"I was happy to hear about the twins. You deserve to be a mom again. After Megan."
"Thank you, Jamie. They can't take her place, but they help more than I can describe."
"Stacey," he ventured. "You you've lost a child. You know what that feels like. How can you possibly be helping Morgan do the same thing to Lorna?"
"Good grief, Cass, did you buy stock in Toys R' Us?" Frankie marveled at the array of dolls, stuffed animals, toys and electronics taking up residence on their bed.
"Keep it down, will ya?" He motioned with a brightly wrapped box before depositing it onto a pile of other colorfully adorned gifts. "It's a surprise for the girls."
"Not just the girls. I see tags for Felicia, Stacey, her kids, Reuben... Me."
"No peeking," Cass snatched the latter away.
"Please tell me it's the limited edition Twilight Barbie I've been dying for!"
"I shopped at the big girl's store for you," Cass grinned lasciviously.
"Meaning it's just as much a gift for you as it is for me?" Frankie laughed at Cass' coy shrug. "You do realize that Christmas is long over and the girls and I already got the best present we could've hoped for with you coming home to us."
"I know. But a few more baubles couldn't hurt. Gotta do our part to help the economy," Cass smiled. "To be honest, the simple act of going to a mall and having the freedom to roam from store to store was pretty exhilarating. Spoiling you all rotten and enjoying being here in person to watch you unwrap your gifts is an added bonus."
Frankie did a thorough inspection of his pile. "Where's Morgan's present?"
"Guess Santa didn't think the good doctor deserved anything this year."
Frankie stared at her husband, hard at work tying a ribbon. "You two managed to have a fight already?"
"What can I say? Winthrops are overachievers."
"Did it have anything to do with Lorna?"
"If Morgan wants to anoint himself some kind of admirable, noble hero for going to court over Lorna after six years of cowering and hiding from I still haven't exactly figured out who or why, then let him. It doesn't matter to me one way or the other."
"Morgan seems to really care about Lorna. Going to court is him doing what he thinks is best for her. He's fighting for what he believes in, he isn't backing down, no "
"Matter what," Cass completed scornfully. "I see you've swallowed the party line. Bet you wish I'd inherited those same balls of steel, huh? And that I'd drawn on them a long time ago to put Cecile in her place."
"Cass, when I said... what I said... before, I was upset."
"Ready to take it back then? Now that I'm no longer in prison and looking at conducting our marriage exclusively through bullet-proof windows and germ-ridden phones, are you willing to take back what you said about my failing you?"
She avoided the question by telling him honestly, "We share the blame for not rooting Cecile out of our lives years ago, for not taking her seriously until it was too late."
"Don't do that, Frankie. Don't try to make me feel better by sharing the blame. It'll only make your resentment grow."
"I don't resent you." Frankie searched desperately for the apt words. "Yes, you let me down when you allowed yet another woman to disrupt our marriage. It was bad enough when Kathleen... And yes, I was disappointed that you were willing to let others take the fall for your actions or even live a life on the run, but, you couldn't discover it in you to fight for us. It was like..."
"What? What was it like? Tell me. We need to get this out once and for all."
"Like... you couldn't face what you'd done. Going to court would have meant reliving every mistake we'd made to get to this point. My presumed death, your moving on with Lila, my years living as someone else. You convinced yourself you were accepting the harder path by heading to prison. But the harder path for you was always going to be hearing your actions examined, having your head know you were guilty, your heart unrepentant, and your soul in turmoil because you are not, ultimately, a killer. You have a conscience. One that could find no justification for what you'd done, or anything to make it better, and thus no peace. That's what you couldn't face. So you went for the easy way out."
With Felicia and Lucas sitting nervously in the pew behind them, Stacey took out her pad of questions and informed Morgan that she'd be putting him on the witness stand first, just as soon as the judge came in and called the court to order.
"What about the list of medical experts I gave you? They can explain "
"I'm not going to play it that way, Morgan."
"Why the hell not? It was Jamie's bad call back in the ER that started all of this in the first place. It proves he's in no shape to be making medical decisions for Lorna."
"Because. If we get into a pissing contest about whose judgment is sounder, we'll be here for weeks. We'll call our experts, they'll call theirs.... I thought the point was to get Lorna treatment as soon as possible? In any case, who's right and who's wrong isn't relevant here. The only thing that matters is that you are Lorna's legal husband; you have the right to be making all of her medical decisions. I intend to help the judge see that."
True to her word, as soon as Stacey got Morgan on the stand she, quickly and efficiently, took him through the facts: He and Lorna had been married for six years. The marriage was legitimate, documented and consummated. He was her baby's presumptive father, possessing all privileges therein.
"And what about Dr. Frame?" Stacey asked Morgan, deliberately beating Kevin to the punch, ensuring that Morgan's side was heard first.
Morgan shrugged. "He and Lorna had some kind of fling, I guess."
"You knew about it?"
"Yeah. Sure. I knew about it."
"And it didn't bother you?"
Another shrug, even more dismissive if possible. "He wasn't the first. I was pretty sure he wouldn't be the last."
"You and Ms. Devon had an open marriage?"
"Lorna and I understood each other. I knew exactly who she was, she knew exactly who I was. We didn't judge, and we didn't try to change each other. How many couples can say that they've never made their partner feel guilty about being themselves?" He glared at Jamie, the message obvious. "Lorna and I had a deal where, instead of criticizing, we supported each other. Even if everyone else gave up on us, we knew we never would." Somewhere, in the middle of his carefully rehearsed testimony, the truth of what Morgan was saying hit him, and he went spontaneously off-script, despite the frown on Stacey's face, telling the judge, "I miss her. Lorna wasn't just my wife, she was my best friend. I want her back. I need her back."
Stacey winced, knowing Morgan had just given Kevin a prefect opening from which to cross-examine, and hurriedly did her best to minimize the damage. "Dr. Winthrop, did you and your wife ever discuss having children?"
"Neither of us wanted any. We're too busy with our careers, and just having a good time. Accidents do happen, though. We agreed that if a problem came up, we'd deal with it."
"So, under the circumstances, you believe Ms. Devon would prefer to "
"Look," eager to get the last part of his statement out before he lost his nerve, Morgan rushed on, not letting Stacey finish posing her question. "Ask anyone Lorna's parents are sitting right here; ask Jamie, even they'll tell you that, when you got down to it, Lorna was about Lorna. She always knew how to put herself first, see that she was taken care of. She was proud of it. Proud of being a survivor. Give Lorna a choice: You or... She'd pick herself every time."
Jamie dug his fingers into the table before him, Kevin keeping a tight, warning hand on his arm, lest Jamie lose control and decide to head-butt Morgan. "He claims he knows her," Jamie spat, shoulders shaking. "He doesn't know her at all. Only somebody who'd just been allowed to see what Lorna wanted him to see could think that... "
"It's okay," Kevin reassured. "We'll get our chance in a moment," just as Stacey turned to declare, "Your witness, Mr. Fowler."
Kevin ducked his head and whispered to Jamie, "Say the word, and I'll decimate him."
Jamie took a moment to consider the offer. Then, steely-eyed, he told Kevin, "Do it."
His attorney rose slowly, neatly buttoning the front of his sports-jacket. "Goody..."
For the first few hours of their vigil at Lorna's bedside, Rachel and Alice took great care to stay out of each other's way, the few words they were compelled to exchange coming out overly politely, eye contact kept to a minimum.
But, after Russ had come in covering his surprise at finding both Rachel and Alice in attendance and peered at Lorna's monitors before scribbling a series of notations in her chart, exchanging a cryptic look with Alice and walking out again, Rachel couldn't take it anymore. She watched Alice read over what Russ had written and, voice shaking, asked, "Now that Jamie isn't here, tell me the truth: What chance does Lorna really have?"
Alice hesitated, closing the chart at a snail's pace and returning it to the designated slot at the foot of Lorna's bed. "It certainly isn't time yet to give up hope."
"But, her recovery isn't proceeding according to the traditional timeline. That's rarely a good sign."
"How long can she go on like this?"
"In theory? Indefinitely."
"Oh, God," Rachel moaned, unable to think of a worse fate for Lorna... or Jamie. "And the baby?"
"The baby is developing normally. No reason why it can't go full term."
"Then, we'd deliver it. Caesarean section. But, it's unlikely that Lorna, in her weakened state, could withstand that kind of trauma."
"Isn't there anything that can be done? Anything at all? Maybe something experimental?"
"There are drugs that could be tried. But, they most likely would kill the baby, at the very least, harm it irreparably."
"So it's completely possible that, down the line, Jamie might be forced to choose..."
"Yes. That's why he's in court right now. Fighting for the right to do precisely that."
"I almost hope he loses," Rachel confessed. "At least then, whatever happens, at least he won't have to feel responsible. At least he'll have someone else to blame."
"We both know Jamie," Alice reminded gently. "He'll feel responsible no matter what."
"I'm scared he won't be able to take it." Rachel felt the long-concealed truth spilling out. To the one person she knew would understand. "What if he breaks down again?"
"I'm scared of that, too," Alice admitted.
"I know he's sworn you to secrecy," Rachel said. "And I know there are doctor-patient confidentiality issues and whatever else. You don't have to tell me the details, you don't have to break any confidences but, please, please, Alice, in broad strokes, in anything you can, I need to know, if only so I can keep my eye out for the warning signs, please tell me what happened to Jamie that made my son want to end his life?"
Alice pulled up a chair, sitting down next to Rachel, her face grim. "I don't know about the warning signs, Rachel. By the time Jamie contacted me it was already too late. He'd already tried to commit suicide. I can't tell you what drove him to it. But, I can tell you what brought him back. First and foremost, it was Steven. Jamie realized he couldn't abandon his child. He vowed to do anything he had to so he could get better, for Steven's sake. But, he was terrified. Terrified of falling short, terrified that he didn't have what it took, that he wasn't strong enough, that he'd let us all down. Finally, I told him, "You have strengths you haven't tapped yet, ones you probably don't even know about. You can fight harder and longer than you ever thought possible. You can persevere no matter what. Because you are Rachel Cory's son."
"Twelve years under lock and key is hardly a quick fix," Cass bristled defensively at Frankie accusation that he'd taken the easy way out by going to jail.
"No. But it is an obvious answer, and a more readily accessible way to atone."
"I had nothing to atone for. What I did to Cecile was justice."
"And yet instead of explaining that, instead of fighting and defending yourself "
"There was no defense for it! Not in the legal sense! Once I'd turned myself in at your urging, may I remind! there was no excusing what I'd done. At the very least, I was guilty of assault. I may not have meant to kill Cecile, but I did intend to drug her and spirit her to parts unknown same as she'd done to you. That's a crime, no matter how sound my reasons. I took the law into my own hands and Why are we still discussing this? I've been released. I'm home. Cecile, what I did, prison, it's all in the past."
"We can't just sweep this under the rug. Not again. We have Charlie and Lori Ann to think about. Our girls "
"Our girls?" Cass cut her off to confirm, his bewildered look making Frankie freeze.
"Yes. Our girls." Frankie stared at him, her fear growing as he began shaking his head.
"No, Frankie. We're not doing that to Dean. Just because I've been released "
"The only reason you ever sided with Dean was because you couldn't be the kind of father you wanted to be to Lori Ann from prison. That doesn't matter anymore."
"Lori Ann is Dean's daughter. We vowed to take care of her and love her for him until he was able. He's able now. And he wants to."
"He's nowhere near being emotionally or psychologically ready."
"And I am? According to you, I'm a volatile cauldron of guilt and regret. Do you really want someone like that around Lori Ann?"
"You're twisting my words! I know that you would never hurt Lori Ann!"
"But we would. Look at us! Is this the kind of environment we want to raise that little girl in? The two of us barely keeping a lid on our anger and resentment? We have a lot of issues to work out, Frankie, we both agree on that. Lori Ann doesn't deserve to be caught in the middle."
"Couples fight, Cass. Parents fight. No family is perfect."
"We wouldn't be giving Lori Ann the life we promised. The best life possible."
"So you're giving up?" She summarized bitterly. "Not wanting to fight for our family and taking the easy way out. Under the guise of doing the hard thing. Again."
"I'm doing what's best for Lori Ann. And if you stopped and thought about what just happened in this room, you'd realize that what's best for Lori Ann... It isn't us."
"Dr. Winthrop," Kevin picked up a sheet of paper, wrapped like a scroll, and proceeded to slowly unwrap it, taking his time, so just when it began to appear like Kevin was done, there turned out to be a few more inches left. Finally, he paused, silently re-reading the document to himself, shaking his head slightly to convey disbelief. At her table, Stacey rolled her eyes at the theatrics, all the while conceding their effectiveness. Only then did Kevin repeat, "Dr. Winthrop, I am going to read you now a list of names. When I am done, would you be so kind as to identify them for me?"
"If you run into any trouble," Kevin reassured, "I'll be happy to help." At which point, he proceeded to read a list of women's names, once again, taking his time. Once again, faking out like he was done, then starting up again.
"And who," he queried of Morgan, "Might these young ladies be?"
"Acquaintances," Morgan shifted uncomfortably in his seat.
"Oh, come now, Dr. Winthrop, no need to be modest, we're all friends, here."
"Oh, brother," Stacey muttered under her breath, realizing that to object would just make her sound petty... and Morgan appear afraid of answering.
"You can tell us the truth, you were involved with all of these women, were you not?"
"Okay, yeah, I was. So?"
"Nothing long term," Morgan insisted.
"Well, obviously not, since that's quite a few conquests to pack into a scant six years. Then again, I'm presuming serial liaisons. I suppose if we're talking simultaneous "
"Some of us have better game than others," Morgan told Kevin pointedly.
The attorney merely smiled and conceded with a bob of the head. "True, true.... Oh, one more name, Dr. Winthrop. Who is Ralph Padovani?"
Morgan's uncomfortable shifting froze mid-squirm. Whatever points he thought he'd gained insulting Kevin's game dissipated as, stiffly, Morgan identified, "He's a former patient. And a friend."
"I see. Tell me, Doctor, do you kiss all your friends in the hallway of Bay City Hospital? All your patients, perhaps?"
"You son of a bitch!"
"Objection!" Now Stacey felt no qualms about leaping up. "I'm not certain what Mr. Fowler's display of homophobia is intended to prove, but it certainly has no place in these proceedings."
"Ralph Padovani," Morgan raged at nearly the same time. "Was a confused kid who misinterpreted my concern for You've got no cause to drag him into this."
The judge peered down at Kevin. "Care to explain the relevance, Mr. Fowler?"
"I thought it should be obvious. During the time that Dr. Winthrop insists he and Ms. Devon were engaged in a legitimate marriage, he managed to, let's say, dabble in a host of extracurricular relationships. For Your Honor to overrule my invoking Mr. Padovani while no such objections came during my recitation of the previous, exclusively female names by either court or counsel, may I point out would be to participate in exactly the sort of homophobia I've just been accused of."
"Mr. Fowler is being deliberately provocative," Stacey countered. "He is badgering the witness, trying to rattle Dr. Winthrop in the interest of "
"That he is," the judge agreed. "He is also correct. Objection overruled."
"Thank you, Your Honor." Kevin turned back to Morgan. "Now, as I was saying. Do you deny that you were not during any time, and not by any stretch of the imagination, faithful to Ms. Devon?"
"I told you already, we understood each other. Lorna had her thing with Jamie, and I..."
"Were you aware that Ms. Devon and Dr. Frame had moved in together?"
"Everybody's got to live somewhere. Especially after she gave up her place in Chicago."
"Had Ms. Devon previously cohabitated with anyone else during your marriage?"
"No. I guess not."
"Had she ever cohabitated with you?"
"We we both had work. We traveled a lot. It didn't make any sense..."
"So, that's a no?"
"Sure. That's a no."
"Is it not possible then, Dr. Winthrop, that Ms. Devon's relationship with Dr. Frame was a bit more... serious... than any of your many, many, many analogous dalliances?"
"We were still married," he insisted stubbornly. "Lorna and I. Not Lorna and Jamie."
"But, that may well have been on its way to changing. Ms. Devon was living with Dr. Frame. They were expecting a child...."
"Objection! Illinois law clearly states that any child born during a legally recognized marriage, or even within 300 days of a marriage's termination is presumed to be "
"I'm familiar with Illinois law," the judge reassured. "Objection sustained."
"Withdrawn." Kevin asked Morgan, "You've testified that you quote, "miss," Lorna. That you want her back, that you need her back. All your own words, am I right, Dr. Winthrop?"
"What's wrong with that? She's my wife."
"A fact difficult to discern based on your actions."
"So what? It's still true."
"Were Mr. Padovani and Company," Kevin waved his scroll. "Aware of your marriage?"
"Was Jamie aware of it with Lorna?"
"Please answer the question."
"No. Lorna and I kept it a secret. We agreed on that."
"You weren't living together. You didn't tell anyone about the marriage. And you were both involved with other people. In fact, the only thing that you can tell the court with certainty is that Ms. Devon," Kevin looked down at his notes, reading aloud. "Didn't judge you, didn't try to change you, and that she never made you feel guilty about being yourself. Did I get it all down?"
"Lorna loved me," Morgan reiterated.
"That may very well be true. It sounds like the two of you were, in fact, very important to each other. But, you said it yourself: You need her. For all the reasons stated above, and more. You need Ms. Devon back. By any means necessary."
"You will lie, you will deceive, you will perjure yourself "
"You will even authorize a medical procedure you know Ms. Devon would be against "
"All in order to selfishly keep her for yourself so she can continue fluffing up your ego."
"Objection! Seriously, am I talking to myself, Your Honor?"
"Withdrawn," Kevin smiled pleasantly. "No more questions."
"As if those were questions," Stacey fumed.
He strolled back to the table, unbuttoning his jacket as calmly as he had initially fastened it, and setting in, once again, next to Jamie.
In front of them, Stacey was attempting to undo some of Kevin's damage through the redirect. She made Morgan repeat, again and again that, no matter how unconventionally he and Lorna may have chosen to live their lives, they were, nevertheless, husband and wife in the eyes of the law. Everything else was just an attempt by counsel to obscure the issue at hand. Dr. Winthrop's motives weren't relevant. Since when was it a bad thing for a husband to love his wife enough to do anything to save her life? He was well within his rights regardless of the unfounded accusations and past conduct raised by Mr. Fowler.
But, even Stacey appeared to be having a hard time putting her heart in it.
"How in the world," Jamie whispered to Kevin. "Did you know about Morgan and that Ralph guy?"
"I do my research. You would be absolutely amazed what people put up on their Twitter accounts these days."
Late in the evening, after most of her employees had gone home, Donna sat in a WOAK screening room, the door locked behind her, watching with narrow, anxious eyes the footage shot at Grant's headquarters by her B-roll camera crew. The one the BCPD did not realize existed. The one Donna saw no need to enlighten them about.
Unlike the A crew, which had stuck to Grant's side for the length of the day, broadcasting live, the B team had wandered up and down the converted warehouse, filming volunteers, staff, even periodically stepping outside, scanning up and down the street to indicate time passing. Their takes were only inserted into the web-cast to help facilitate transitions.
Which was how, during one of their fortuitous or not, the jury was still out on that one exterior sojourns, Donna was able to catch primarily because she'd just spent hours looking for it a brief glimpse of Marley getting in and driving away in a volunteer car.
Roughly a half-hour before the determined time of Lorna Devon and Morgan Winthrop's hit-and-run....
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