“You’re such an amateur,” Iris drawled to Marley, treating the art gallery now as her own private domain, from which Iris was free to come and go as she wished apparently. “Did you really think you’d be able to get away with it?”
Marley sighed, putting down her pen and leaning back in her chair, surveying Daisy’s great-grandmother from across her desk. “Seriously, Iris, haven’t we already had this conversation? Several times? How about I just ask the court stenographer to read back a transcript. It will save us both so much aggravation.”
“And why would I want to save you an iota of aggravation?” Iris asked, genuinely confused.
“Fine, then, knock yourself out.” Marley picked up her pen to get back to work.
“Did you really think you’d be able to adopt Daisy without my knowing about it?”
“I realize this doesn’t fit into your world view, Iris, but I honestly didn’t give the great and powerful Mrs. Wheeler a moment’s thought when filing those papers. They’re a matter of public record, so please don’t act like this was some incredible act of detective work on your part.”
“You don’t have a legal leg to stand on. As long as Sarah hasn’t signed away her rights – “
“She doesn’t have to. All Grant and I have to do is prove that Sarah abandoned her child to our care, and we can have her parental rights terminated.”
“I won’t allow that to happen.”
“You don’t have any say in the matter. We have Sarah’s letter, we have Allie’s testimony. That should be plenty.”
“How can you do this to Dennis?” Iris changed tactics. “When he finds out that you’re planning to sever him from his own flesh and blood…”
“Dennis doesn’t give a damn about Daisy,” Marley told Iris tiredly, realizing that Dennis’ mother already had to know as much, or else she wouldn’t be so desperate. “Except in as much as Daisy pertains to me. He is totally on board with my adopting his granddaughter. He realizes it’s the least he owes me.”
Iris’ eyes narrowed. “So you’re playing my son. And you’re playing your husband. And using my granddaughter’s innocent child to do it.”
Marley shrugged, smiling innocently, but declining to confirm or deny. She knew all about Iris and her history of secret wire-taps. Marley wasn’t about to get caught in that trap.
“You’re out of your mind,” Iris decreed. “You have gone utterly, completely, starkly bonkers. Just like that over-face-lifted mother of yours. You are both certifiably insane.”
“It’s interesting, isn’t it?” Marley articulated something that she’d been thinking about quite a lot lately. “Back when I was Marley the doormat, the one who allowed anyone and everyone to walk all over her, who let her happiness take a back seat to other people’s, who just gave and gave without receiving anything in return… back then, I was considered utterly rational. It’s only now that I’ve finally seized control of my life. That I’ve decided enough is enough and I’m not going to take it anymore and isn’t it about time I got what I deserved for a change, now – now! – is when you think I’m crazy. I’d venture that says more about you than it does about me.”
“Donna,” Matt ventured tentatively, having given his wife the night to calm down before pressing her about what she’d witnessed the other day.
She was sitting quietly in their bedroom, staring off at nothing in particular. When Matt walked in, he expected to find Donna fighting mad. But, instead, she merely appeared… crushed.
“What can I say?” he pleaded. “Tell me what I can say.”
“There’s nothing for you to say.”
“Don’t be like that, please…”
“I’m the one who has something to say.”
Matt braced himself, resolved to take this like a man. “I’m listening.”
Donna said, “I know who’s to blame for this debacle.”
“I am,” Matt agreed eagerly, ready to start clearing the air, determined not to make any excuses.
“I – Olivia, this isn’t her fault. I’m the one who should have known better. I’m the one who had everything to lose.”
“Are you in love with her?” Donna asked abruptly.
“No! Absolutely not. No, never. I love you.”
“Then why are you defending her?”
“I’m not defending her. I’m explaining why she doesn’t matter. What happened between her and me isn’t important. The only important thing is what’s going to happen between you and me.”
“I know who’s to blame for this,” Donna repeated, finally looking Matt’s way. “It’s me.”
“I’m sorry… what?”
“This is all my fault. Tell the truth, Matthew. You turned to Olivia because I wasn’t making myself available to you sexually, isn’t that right?”
“Well, yes…” He wouldn’t have put it exactly that way, but….
“As I thought. This is all my fault.”
“I’m sorry…” he couldn’t think of anything else to say.
“Don’t be,” Donna reassured. “I created this situation. And I know exactly how I should fix it.”
“Thank you for coming,” Kevin realized how silly the usual platitude sounded when offered in a prison waiting room.
“I wasn’t sure I was going to,” Lila admitted.
“I’d totally understand it if you didn’t.”
She sighed, still unable to fully comprehend, “What have you done, Kevin….”
He shrugged. “What I wanted to do. Steven is the one I feel sorry for. Poor kid, the position I’ve put him in…”
“You know, I always thought Jamie’s boy was a stand up kind of guy. He didn’t strike me as the type who’d let another man do his time.”
“He isn’t. I begged him. And I manipulated him, too. Used his feelings for Jenny. Don’t blame him for any of this, please. It’s all my doing, start to finish.”
“Way I see it, your finish is still a long way off. What’s the sentence, two years and change?”
“What about Amanda?”
Kevin hesitated, then confessed, “I offered to give her a divorce.”
“Aw, she’s too stubborn to take that,” Lila replied with confidence. “And listen to all those inevitable I Told You So’s? That’s not Amanda’s way. That one digs her heels in just for the sake of digging her heels in.”
“Well, I’m grateful,” Kevin said. “It means a lot that she’s willing to wait for me.”
“Not enough to tell her the whole truth, though.”
“Why burden her? I’ve already done enough damage to Jenny and Steven. Why add Amanda to that list?”
“Because she’s your wife. It came with the vows. Hey,” Lila mused. “Since you two got married so all-fire sudden-like, did you even take any vows?”
“We got the basic package,” he assured. “Love, honor, cherish. Pay the clerk on your way out.”
“So then you got the better or for worst part, too.”
“And we’re honoring it. In our own way.”
“So then why am I the one here? And she isn’t?”
“You didn’t answer my question the other night,” Kirkland cornered Zeno on the BCU quad, not caring who overheard, just needing to get this over with.
“It was your birthday,” Zeno said lightly.
“Well, it’s not my birthday, anymore. So let’s have it: What happened between you and Charlie?”
Zeno sighed. Then, resolved, he beckoned Kirkland into a private area and confessed, “Charlie and I, we slept together.”
Kirkland did his best not to react. He kept his features more or less under control, but he couldn’t stop his face from flushing crimson. “When?”
“Right after your stepmother died. Cass and Frankie were pressuring Charlie to be there for you, and she didn’t know how to do it. She felt completely lost. She ended up at the farm, just to get away from her parents, and….”
“You didn’t care that Charlie had a boyfriend?” Kirkland’s fingers tightened into fists, but he stayed as he was.
“Neither one of us was exactly thinking things through. We did a dumb thing. But, it didn’t mean anything.”
“Must have meant something to Charlie.”
“Yeah… see, that’s the thing. I tried talking to her afterwards, but she completely blew me off. She said she loved you, and I should just keep my mouth shut and leave her the hell alone. So I did.”
“But, then she went after Allie. Because of you.”
“I – I don’t get that, either.”
“Did Charlie really say she loved me?”
“She said you were a great guy, exactly what she wanted.”
“Did she say she loved me?” Kirkland repeated in a more forceful tone.
“Yeah. She did.”
“She didn’t mean it.” The fight seemed to go out of Kirkland, his shoulders slumping. “She said it, but she didn’t mean it.”
“Well, that kind of thing is tough to figure out. Especially first time out.”
Kirkland mumbled, “I thought I loved her. But, maybe I didn’t mean it, either. Maybe I’m just like my dad – my biological dad, Grant; looking to get laid and that’s it. That’s what Charlie said when she dumped me.”
“Charlie is seriously screwed up, Kirk. Just forget about her.”
“Is that what you did?”
“Yeah,” Zeno confirmed.
Which is when Kirkland finally punched him.
“That scarlet A really suits you,” Dennis informed Olivia when he dropped by Russ’ house to see his ex.
“Screw you,” was Olivia’s version of a pithy retort.
“Is that how you got Matt?” Dennis wondered. “You do have a way with words, Olivia.”
“What kind of a sick pervert stands around watching his daughter’s mother – “
“And his uncle. Don’t forget, Matt’s my uncle.”
“Stands around watching them have sex?”
“I did not stand around. I came and went. You know,” Dennis needled. “Not unlike Matt.”
“And then calls the guy’s wife to join him?”
“Best show in town. I didn’t want to Donna to miss out.”
“What do you care about Donna? Or Matt, for that matter?”
“I don’t. I just thought it was about time all of Bay City saw you for the slut you really are. With visual aids.”
“All of Bay City?” Olivia countered. “Or just one citizen in particular?”
“Oh, yeah, that’s right. I wonder how straight-shooter is Jamie is going to feel about you fooling around with his own brother’s… straight shooter.”
“I knew it! You couldn’t stand the thought of me being happy with someone else.”
“Actually, what I couldn’t stand was the thought of how miserable you were about to make Jamie. So I figured sooner was better than later to open his eyes once for all.”
“You son of a bitch.”
“Technically true, yes.”
“Was messing with Jamie and Marley twenty years ago not enough for you? Why can’t you leave the poor guy alone? He’s got a lot more to worry about these days than some jealous childhood friend who hasn’t matured a bit since the sixth grade.”
“Jamie and I are more than just friends. We’re family. And you’re right, I do owe him for how I treated him over Marley. Believe it or not, this is my way of making amends. It’s my way of looking out for him. Jamie doesn’t know what he’s getting into with you. I just seized the opportunity to show him.”
“He’s looking at you,” Rachel insisted to Felicia as they sat inside a Parisian café, both watching a dapper, bearded, gray haired gentleman in an off-white designer suit that brought out the ebony of his pupils. One who was seemingly keeping a very interested eye on their table.
“He’s looking at you,” Felicia corrected, then offered, “Do you think we should call him over?”
“Goodness, no,” Rachel protested. “Whatever for?”
“You’re the one who suggested it.”
“For you. I meant for you.”
Felicia shrugged. “I know a little harmless flirtation with an attractive stranger always helps lift my mood.”
“Good. Then you should be the one to call him over. Because he is definitely looking at you.”
Felicia sighed and stood up. “Only one way to settle this argument.”
And, before Rachel fully realized what she was doing, Felicia had crossed the floor to exchange a few words with the man in question. And then proceeded to lead him back to their table.
Rachel wondered if it would be impolite to hide. When Amanda was a baby, she’d thought that covering her own eyes made everyone around her disappear. Rachel was currently perfectly willing to try out her daughter’s scenario.
Alas, there was not time. Felicia was already making the introductions. “Rachel, this is Eduardo. Eduardo, Rachel.”
“A pleasure.” He kissed her hand. Rachel had been expecting a French accent. The cultured Spanish one came as a bit of surprise.
“You’re not from around here,” Rachel offered what she suspected was the third lamest come-on line of all time. And she wasn’t even trying to come on to him.
“Cuba,” he explained with a smile, accepting the chair that Felicia offered him. “But, I also have a home in Spain that I visit regularly, and I enjoy visiting Paris while I am on the continent. And what brings you lovely ladies to France?” Eduardo signaled the waiter to refresh all their drinks.
“A little vacation,” Felicia trilled gaily. “My husband and I have recently separated.”
“And my husband just died,” Rachel blurted out, hoping to make Eduardo uncomfortable enough to go.
Unfortunately, her words had the opposite effect as, instead of being taken aback, Eduardo grew sympathetic, taking Rachel’s hand in his for the second time and squeezing it warmly. “My sympathies,’ he said.
“I lost my own wife a little over two years ago,” he said.
“Oh…” Rachel felt a sheen of guilt wash over her. She’d been so busy thinking about herself, she’d forgotten to consider how her words might affect others.
“It is the most difficult thing in the world, is it not?” Eduardo mused. “Learning to live as one after a lifetime of two.”
“I have my children,” Rachel attempted to keep the mood from getting to somber. “That’s some comfort, at least. Do you have children?”
“A son. And two grandchildren. Yes, they are a blessing. But, what can I say? My wife was the epicenter of my world. It is nearly impossible to find your balance without one.”
Rachel heard herself confessing, not even realizing she’d meant to until she heard the words coming out of her mouth, “My husband was a… larger than life figure. He filled a room like no one I had ever previously known. I guess I underestimated the gap he’d leave behind. Wherever I go these days, I feel like something is missing. I try to remember what it might be that I’ve forgotten. But, then I always return to the same realization – it’s him.”
“Was the loss very sudden?” Eduardo asked.
Rachel nodded. “A plane crash.”
“Ah, yes, I see.” He bobbed his head up and down. “My wife was ill for over a year. Her death, when it came, was a shock – but also a bit of relief. She was no longer in pain. I forced myself to feel gratitude for that much. The entire time she was suffering, every day, often every hour, I would attempt to strike a bargain with the Almighty. I would beg him for just one, perfect day for the two of us. A day when my wife could feel carefree and happy again. A day for me to tell her everything I had spent forty-seven years forgetting or not thinking was important, only to realize too late that might be the most important of all. Following that, I told God, after that his will be done. But, just one day… Was it really so much to ask?”
“I do that, too,” Rachel admitted. “I keep thinking that there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for just one more day with my husband. And my children.”
“Your children?” Eduardo startled. “But, you said…”
“Rachel lost two of her children in the same plane crash,” Felicia interjected tactfully. “She has three more, but…”
“Oh, no, no. That is unbearable!”
“You’d be surprised by what you can bear,” Rachel told him dryly. “When you have no choice in the matter.”
“You are a remarkable woman.”
“She’s being modest,” Felicia wagged her finger Rachel’s way. “Just ask anyone in Bay City and – “
“Bay City?” Eduardo looked from one woman to the other. “Bay City, Illinois?”
“Yes,” Felicia said, surprised that he’d heard of it. So few people had.
“Why, what a remarkable coincidence. My son also lives in Bay City. Perhaps you know him? Douglas Rivera. His partner is your very own Mayor!”
|Receive email notification every time www.anotherworldtoday.com is updated|