“Feeling any better?” Lucas asked Felicia sympathetically after she’d shown up on his doorstep, still so upset from her confrontation with Rachel that she could barely get the words out regarding Chase Hamilton and his request that Felicia file charges against Carl in order to help find Lorna.
“She’s out of her mind.” Felicia shook with fury. “Rachel. It’s as if nothing in the world is more important than keeping her memories of Carl pristine. To hell with the rest of us. To hell with Lorna and what may have happened to her.”
Lucas gingerly sat down next to her, offering, “When Jenna first died…”
“I know,” Felicia cut him off, bobbing her head up and down. “I know. I went just as crazy. The things I did, the things I said…”
“Actually,” Lucas corrected gently. “I was talking about myself. Look at what I did to try and avenge Jenna’s death. I tried to frame Donna for Cecile’s murder. Jamie almost went to prison because of me. I can hardly judge Rachel.”
“Well, I can,” Felicia snapped. “She refuses to even consider the possibility that Carl may have followed through with his threats, and kidnapped Lorna in order to punish her and Jamie for separating him from Rachel. My God, she won’t even admit that Carl stole the twins from her. Not to mention that he ended up getting them killed.”
“If Carl and the twins are dead. And Lorna was with them…” Lucas trailed off. The conclusion to his thought was obvious. And much too painful to articulate.
“At least Chase Hamilton is offering us a chance to find out for certain, one way or the other.”
“Do you trust him?” Lucas asked. “Hamilton?”
“He’s a loathsome man.”
“Not what I asked.”
“And he’s fixated on Carl, there’s no question about that.” Felicia sighed. “But, maybe that’s what it will take to get us some answers. A loathsome man who is fixated on Carl… and not afraid of Rachel.”
“Jamie refused to press those charges,” Lucas noted. “Out of respect for Rachel.”
“I respect Rachel,” Felicia said. “But, I love my daughter more. I had hoped Jamie did, too.”
“So are you going to do as Chase asked?”
Felicia nodded. “Yes. How can I not?”
“Then you have my complete support.”
She turned her head to look at him fully. “Is that all I have?”
He avoided her gaze. “Fanny…”
“Or is your support merely the only thing left?”
“I love you,” he told her honestly.
“You just can’t stand the sight of me, anymore.”
“It hurts too much,” he admitted. “Being around you. It reminds me too much of…”
“It’s over, isn’t it?” She wasn’t accusing him, merely stately the tragic, inevitable, sad fact. “After forty years, it – we – are really… over.”
“We’ll never be over,” he assured her. “We’ve been through too much together. We mean too much to each other. You and I, we’re connected forever.”
“Yes,” Felicia said. “Through our history. Through our children. Our grandchildren. But, you’re never coming back to me, are you? Not the way I need you to.”
“I… can’t. Not right now. You can’t ask me…”
“Sorry, pal.” She really did seem to sympathize with his plight. “But, I am asking. I need to know. Are you ever going to be my husband again, Lucas?”
“You’re flirting with me, Olivia,” Jamie left her no room for denial. “But not because you’re interested in me. You’re doing it because you want to make someone else jealous. And I have a pretty good idea of who that someone else is.”
Olivia froze, her breath trapped in her throat as her brain tried to hop-scotch over Jamie’s words, to get ahead of them so that she might know what to say in response.
She never got the chance. Because the next word Jamie threw at her was, “Dennis.”
“Dennis?” Olivia repeated dumbly, having honestly not even considered the possibility.
“You think flirting with me will make Dennis jealous.”
“Yes,” Olivia burst out, her relief melting the lump that had previously kept her from speaking. “Yes. That’s – that’s exactly right.”
“Do you still love him?” Jamie wondered.
“Then why – “
“Why not?” Emboldened, Olivia spun a version of the truth. “I mean, haven’t you noticed what a self-righteous tool the guy is?”
“Frankly, I’m usually too busy hearing that about myself to recognize it in others.”
“Oh, please. You’ve got nothing on Dennis. You are a nice guy who tries to do the right thing and sometimes screws up. Dennis is a son-of-a-bitch – literally, I don’t have to tell you that – who gets off on screwing with people then, when he gets caught, flashing that allegedly killer grin of his and acting like he never meant to cause any harm, he was just goofing around. What’s your problem, dude, can’t take a joke?”
Jamie conceded, “I am familiar with that aspect of his personality.”
“Don’t you think Dennis deserves a taste of his own medicine?”
“And how do you see me fitting into that?”
“I think it would drive Dennis nuts if he thought you and I were together. And after what he did to you and Marley, he totally deserves it.”
“I’m not really in a good place in my life right now to be playing petty games, Olivia.”
“You don’t have to do a thing,” she assured him. “I’ll take care of everything.”
“Did you honestly think you could get away with it?” Iris taunted Marley, cornering her at the art gallery’s office and refusing to budge, despite how many times the younger woman asked her to leave. “Did you think I’d fail to see through you in an instant?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Iris.” Marley’s main emotion at the moment seemed to be exasperation.
“You’re trying to steal Sarah’s child.”
“Grant’s child,” Marley stressed.
“In any case, she isn’t yours.”
“No. Daisy is the daughter of my husband and your promiscuous granddaughter. A girl that I gave a helping hand and home to when no one in her own family gave a damn.”
“If I had but known….”
“You’d have what?” Marley challenged. “Stopped her? Obviously, nothing was going to stop Sarah where seducing Grant was concerned.”
“You are blaming her for this fiasco?” Iris couldn’t help but laugh. “An inexperienced child up against a man like Grant? Tell me, Marley, has the good Senator ever managed to be faithful to any woman? Or should I be posing that question to Amanda? And did you really believe you’d prove to be the exception?”
“This wasn’t just some one-night stand.” Marley told Iris the truth she’d been keeping to herself ever since Kirkland inadvertently spilled the beans. “This was an affair. It went on for months. Long after you’d arrived in town, by the way. And speaking of ridiculous beliefs: Sarah believed Grant was in love with her.”
“Do you blame her? She knew the choice was between her and you…”
“And Grant chose me,” Marley hissed.
Iris shrugged. “Thank goodness. The last thing Sarah needs is that geriatric lecher in her life in any capacity.”
“She should have thought about that before she named him as Daisy’s father.”
“I am perfectly happy,” Iris said. “To leave Grant to you. I cannot conceive of a couple who deserve each other more. But, don’t you dare even think of sucking my Daisy into that maelstrom of dysfunction you call a family.”
“Did Sarah tell you that’s what I was doing?”
“Of course not! You’ve got that poor child so confused she barely knows whether she’s coming or going. All she knows is you’ve made her feel like an inadequate mother.”
“I told Sarah it wasn’t her fault. She’ll get the hang of it eventually.”
“You, bitch! How dare you? The poor girl is exhausted, sleep-deprived, heart-broken, probably suffering from sort of postpartum depression or anxiety, to boot, and here you come, oozing your phony concern, offering your version of help.”
“I do want to help.”
“The same way you offered to help Olivia with Sarah?”
“Why don’t you ask Sarah how she feels about the way that all worked out?”
“You conniving, manipulative, mad… harridan!” Iris fumbled to summon up an epithet she hadn’t already hurled previously. “All these years, we thought you were nothing like Donna. Turns out you’re merely better at hiding your malevolence.”
“I want what’s best for Daisy. Sarah does, too.”
“I’ll tell her,” Iris threatened. “I’ll tell her what you’re doing. I’ll make her see.”
“Alright,” Marley said, turning her back on Iris. Finally allowing herself the shadow of a smile.
“You saw Charlie.” Jamie took one look at his son’s devastated countenance, and made an educated guess.
Kirkland nodded, too choked up to speak.
“She told me to get away from her.”
Jamie indicated for Kirkland to take a seat, then reminded, “Charlie just got some pretty devastating news. You can’t expect her to act like nothing’s happened.”
“I wanted to help her. I wanted to be there for her. Help her through it and… stuff.”
“I told her I loved her.”
Jamie paused, suspecting he already knew the answer. “And what did Charlie say to that?”
“She said I loved getting laid. That’s it. And that I didn’t care about her, at all.”
“Oh, Kirk.” Jamie wanted to reach out and pull the boy into a hug. But he knew that was the last thing Kirkland was prepared to accept.
“I do love her, Dad. I really do.”
“Why won’t she believe me?”
“Because she’s scared and upset and sick.” Jamie took a deep breath, still debating with himself about whether or not to say it even as the words came stuttering out of his mouth. “Sometimes… sometimes… I know it’s hard but… Sometimes, son, sometimes it just comes time to let go.”
Kirkland’s head snapped up. “What do you mean?”
“Maybe you should take a step back. Not push Charlie so hard.”
“You want me to dump her?”
“Just give her some space.”
“No. She’s going to think I’m giving up on her. That’s what she expects. And I would never do that.”
“Well, maybe you… should.”
He stared at Jamie in surprise. “How can you say that? You’re the one who taught me about sticking by people. How, when you love somebody, you forgive them.”
“Yes. But Charlie…”
“She’s sick. You said it yourself. She’s sick. She’s just going off on everybody right now to make herself feel better. But she doesn’t mean it. I want her to know she can count on me, no matter what.”
“You’re a good guy.”
“I want to be like you, Dad.”
Now it was Jamie’s turn to startle. “What?”
“Look at what you did for Lorna. When she was in the hospital, and Morgan was saying Devon was his, you never gave up on Lorna, not for a minute.”
“That wasn’t the same – “
“And what about now? If Carl really took Lorna like you think, then she’s dead, too, same as Carl and Cory and Elizabeth. Everybody is telling you Lorna’s dead. But, you don’t believe it. You think she’s coming home. That’s what you tell Devon and Zee.”
“You can’t compare…”
“You haven’t lost faith in Lorna, and I’m not going to lose faith in Charlie. I’m not going to be somebody else who lets her down. No matter what.”
“I have some questions,” Rachel said.
“Beats threats,” Alice observed, letting the other woman into her home. “Or blackmail.”
“I need to know about Spencer’s involvement with the compound.”
“It ended,” Alice offered curtly. “After they had him killed.”
Rachel countered, “What about beforehand?”
“I don’t really know.” Alice wondered where this line of questioning was headed, and about the burning fervor in Rachel’s eyes.
“You know that Spencer was far enough up the food chain to be able to get me evidence that it was Donna who’d had Jenna, Dean and Felicia kidnapped, not Carl.”
“He used that information to blackmail me,” Rachel couldn’t help adding, only partially in response to Alice’s earlier barb. “He exchanged it for Jamie signing away custody of Kirkland.”
“Which all led to nothing in the long run,” Alice recalled. “As Jamie never had custody, Marley did. Kevin set up the whole thing to outsmart Spencer and Grant, and get you what you needed.” She actually seemed proud of her grandson’s cleverness, rather than angry at her husband’s duplicity.
“It led to one thing. It proved just how deeply Spencer’s influence ran.”
“Alright,” Alice agreed, still mystified. She’d hardly ever denied the involvement.
“If Spencer wanted to,” Rachel ventured. “He could have had Carl locked away the same way Donna had Lucas locked away.”
“Oh, I’m sure he wanted to. More than once.”
“What if he finally did it?”
“I beg your pardon? My husband has been dead for almost two years now. Do you think he’s been giving orders from beyond the grave?”
“Before that.” Rachel didn’t understand how Alice could fail to see the obvious. “What if Spencer gave the order beforehand?”
“Before he died, Spencer, Carl and Lucas were all working together to bring down the compound. Why would he have – “
“Because!” Rachel’s eyes blazed as she unveiled the theory that had come to her in a flash earlier. “What if Spencer were planning to double-cross Carl? He certainly had plenty of reason to, you just said so yourself. Spencer must have wanted to seek revenge against Carl a million times over the past fifty years.”
“Spencer double-crossed Carl?” Alice couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “Carl was the one who double-crossed Spencer! The three of them were supposed to be in it together and, first chance Carl got, he made certain all the blame was placed on Spencer. That’s what lead to Kirkland’s kidnapping and Spencer’s death.”
“My husband was not a stupid man,” Rachel said.
“Neither was mine.”
“If Carl found out what Spencer was planning, of course he’d protect himself by making sure that he struck first.”
“And do you have any evidence for this theory of yours?”
“Carl, Elizabeth and Cory may still be alive,” Rachel said.
“I hope they are. For your sake. But what does Spencer….”
“If Spencer gave the order to have Carl held against his will, that order may not have been cancelled following Spencer’s death. The compound might have still gone through with it. Last summer. They might have snatched Carl and the children.”
“Rachel,” Alice struggled to keep her tone civil, which was not an easy task under the circumstances. “Is this really the narrative you’ve chosen to embrace? Have you truly convinced yourself that not only was Carl’s betrayal of Spencer actually nothing less than an act of justifiable self-defense, but that his latest atrocity, making off with your children and your son’s wife – “
“We don’t know that.”
“ – That’s somehow Spencer’s fault, too?”
“It’s possible,” Rachel insisted. “What if Spencer was only pretending to be working with Carl and Lucas against the compound? What if he was on their side all along? And what if he finally got his revenge against Ryan’s father? Spencer hated Carl so much, he wouldn’t have cared if it had to come from beyond the grave to get that last task done.”
Charlie sat cross-legged on her hospital bed, staring at the bottle of pills she’d been given. She opened the cap and peered inside. She looked beseechingly up at Frankie, “Do I have to?”
Her mother hesitated. “Do you want to?”
“Your dad thinks it’s for the best. They helped him a lot. He thinks it’s your best shot at getting better. At making sure that what happened with Allie doesn’t happen again.”
“He really thinks I’m crazy.”
“He thinks you’re sick. You know, when you were a baby, and you had your heart condition, your dad blamed himself. It’s what brought on his first, full manic episode. You have no idea how much he blames himself for this now. It’s even worse, in a way. The heart condition, that had a lot of different causes. This… this is pure genetics.”
“Is that why he isn’t here? He can’t look at me?”
“I sent him home. I wanted him to check on Lori Ann. And I wanted to give him a break. This is all so painful for him. You’re his baby girl. All he wants to do is protect you, and he feels like he’s let you down.”
“He has,” Charlie mumbled.
“Oh, baby, please don’t say that. I know everything feels hopeless right now, but it doesn’t have to be. Look at your dad.”
“You keep talking about Dad,” Charlie observed. “What about you?”
“What about me?”
“How do you feel about this?”
“I want you to get well,” Frankie said firmly.
“Like this?” Charlie indicated the pills.
Her mother’s hesitation was all the answer Charlie needed.
“You hate drugs.”
“Not all of them. I don’t hate insulin for diabetics, or – I don’t know – epinephrine for people with severe allergies.”
“But, I heard you talking to Lori Ann’s therapists a bunch of times. They wanted to give her something to help her focus and you wouldn’t let them.”
“The drugging of children in this country is completely out of control. Not to mention the fact that we still don’t know the full side-effects of giving such powerful medications to young people who are still growing.”
“Do you want me taking these pills, Mom?” Charlie held up the bottle.
Slowly, Frankie shook her head from side to side.
“Do you think there’s another way for me to get better?”
Her mother nodded, more firmly this time. She asked, “Do you trust me, Charlie?”
Frankie took the bottle out of her daughter’s hands and slipped the still full container into her jacket pocket. “Then we’re going to do this my way. Just you and me. We’ll show them all.”
|Receive email notification every time www.anotherworldtoday.com is updated|