“So I guess there’s someone you remember, after all,” Amanda observed dryly, walking in on Morgan and Lorna – Lorna! – sharing a laugh in the Cory foyer, neither seemingly harboring a care in the world.
Lorna turned towards Amanda, then back to Morgan with a questioning expression on her face.
“This is Amanda,” he introduced awkwardly. “Rachel’s daughter.”
“You’re married to my brother,” Amanda filled in the rest.
“Oh, yes,” now Lorna remembered. “You’re the one who tried to drive Carl out of your mother’s life by pretending to be some femme fatale intent on seducing him away. He told me. I can see now why it didn’t work.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Amanda bristled.
Lorna shrugged innocently, leaving Amanda to fill in the blanks.
And to bluster the last fact she ever imagined she’d be boasting about, “I’ll have you know that Carl was once obsessed with me. He was. It was a long time ago, but…”
“You were a lot younger then?” Lorna guessed.
Her sister-in-law struck back in the only way she could think of, taunting, “So you can’t remember Jamie or your kids, but you can remember Morgan?”
“She doesn’t remember me, either.”
“Then what’s with the chuckle-fest? I could have sworn you were recalling old times.”
“Morgan was filling me in about my alleged past in Bay City.”
“There’s nothing alleged about it. We were all there. At your wedding. Morgan, too.”
“You were?” Lorna asked in surprise.
He copped to it. “Yeah.”
“You didn’t know at the time that he’d tried to have your kid aborted. You even made him Devon’s godfather.”
“And your brother was okay with that?”
“My brother is a very forgiving man. Too forgiving, if you ask me. Why, I bet after all this dies down and Carl is back playing Lord of the Manner in my father’s house, Jamie will even forgive Mom’s lying to him. Jamie always forgives Mom, in the end. She’s got him well trained. And he’ll forgive you, too, mark my words.”
“I’m not interested in Jamie’s forgiveness. I’m not interested in Jamie, period.”
“Yeah, I can see that.” Amanda glared daggers at Morgan. “You’re obviously doing damn fine without him.”
“You know, you haven’t committed a crime,” Sarah observed, pulling the sheet up over herself as Kirkland sat on the edge of her bed, yanking on his pants. “It isn’t necessary for you to flee the scene.”
He grinned sheepishly. “Force of habit, I guess.”
“Meaning…” Kirkland sighed, figuring if he was going to tell anyone, he might as well tell Sarah. It would hardly be the biggest secret between then. “Meaning that, back at school, I – I… well… I kind of got in touch with my… Inner Grant.”
“Oh, this I’ve got to hear,” Sarah said, sitting up.
“I pretty much screwed any girl who said yes – and a few who just nodded. I played the field like the rules of basic decency didn’t apply to me. I treated them like crap and I didn’t give a damn who I hurt as long as I got what I wanted – which was to get laid as many times as I could.”
“Yup, that does sound like your Harrison side coming out.”
“If my dad ever found out, he’d be so disappointed in me. Everything he taught me about respecting women – I threw it out the window and shut the blinds.”
“Well, I’m certainly not going to tell him.”
“Thanks,” Kirkland said. Then he wondered, “Are you going to tell…”
“Who?” Sarah’s eyes widened as she realized what he was implying. “Grant?”
“It’s kind of hard to stick it to the guy if he isn’t, you know, aware – “
“That I slept with his son?”
“Are you planning on telling him?” She flipped the question. “You were just as into it as I was, last night.”
“No,” Kirkland said.
“Why not?” she challenged.
“Because I… like you, Sarah.”
“I like you, too.”
“And I liked last night.”
“And I’d like to do it again.”
“Right now?” Sarah raised an eyebrow.
“Yes,” he told her honestly. “And maybe again… down the line.”
“And then you’ll tell Grant?”
“I don’t know.” He shrugged. “Maybe. We’ll see how it goes.”
“You’re on,” Sarah said, pulling Kirkland back down onto the bed.
“Good morning, Rachel,” Iris trilled, strolling into the Cory house like she always did, as if it were only a matter of time before the mansion reverted to its rightful owner.
“I’m amazed you’d dare show your face around here,” Rachel observed calmly, setting down her coffee cup and leaning back in her chair, looking up at Iris not with respect, but with sincere disbelief.
“Oh. Do you mean because of those silly charges your husband leveled at me the other day? The ones wherein I, as a member of the compound, put out a contract on the lives of both his and Lucas’ children in revenge for their bringing about our downfall?”
“That would be the one, yes.”
Iris smiled. “Do I look down, Rachel?”
“I don’t know,” her stepdaughter replied. “You’ve already sunk so low, it’s rather hard to tell.”
“I assure you, I couldn’t be feeling any better this morning.” When Rachel declined to respond, Iris prompted, “Wouldn’t you like to know why?”
“Oh, Rachel, where’s your sense of curiosity? Then again, I suppose if you still possessed a semblance of that, you would be just a tad more inquisitive regarding that preposterous tale your husband just spun. The one for which – need I even ask? – has he yet to produce a modicum of evidence?”
“Carl provided me with all the evidence I require.”
“Thank goodness the authorities set their bar a little higher.”
“Considering that the authorities i.e. Chase Hamilton are in your pocket – “
“Did you want something, Iris?” Rachel inquired tiredly.
Mac’s daughter moved to remove her gloves, stretching forth her left hand, the better to allow Rachel an up close and personal view of the sparking golden wedding band now residing there.
Rachel blinked, genuinely taken by surprise. “You’re… married?”
Iris nodded, unspeakably proud of herself.
“To… whom?” Rachel asked, though a part of her already suspected the answer, and it effectively tied her stomach up in knots just to ponder the possibility.
“Why to Russ, of course. And I wanted you to be the first to congratulate me. After all, none of this could have happened, Rachel, without you….”
“Hi,” Charlie said.
“What are you doing here?” Elizabeth looked her up and down suspiciously.
“I came to welcome you back from the dead.”
“I dunno. Because someone should?”
“Don’t worry about it, my Father had a whole lynch mob waiting, just as he expected.”
“That was your dad. What about you?”
“We used to be friends,” Charlie reminded.
“Sure. When you needed me to help you mess with Lorna.”
“That’s kind of funny,” Charlie noted, hoping she was being as subtle as her parents would have wanted, wondering if investigative skills were genetic. “You hating Lorna and everything, and then her ending up with you guys in –what do you call it? – exile?”
“Funny isn’t the word I’d use. More like a living nightmare.”
“Was it weird, being stuck with her day after day?”
“In the beginning, yeah. She was such a bitch, carrying on and complaining about Father to anyone who’d listen. God, what a drama queen. Seriously, if she hadn’t fallen down and smacked her head the way she did, I might have been tempted to do it for her.”
“Is that how she lost her memory?” Charlie asked, still going for subtle. Explaining, “I heard my mom and dad talking about it.”
“Yeah. Though Lorna unconscious is her optimal state, amnesiac Lorna is definitely a step in the right direction.”
“So now she’s like, your dad’s biggest fan?”
“She works for him,” Elizabeth stressed. “Nothing more.”
“Okay,” Charlie saw that Elizabeth was getting pissed off, and changed the subject. “So what did you do for school while you were gone?”
“Father taught us.”
“Are you going to go back now that you’re home?”
“What would be the point? The education Father offered Cory and I put us so far ahead of anything covered in an American school.”
“So what are you going to do?”
“I don’t know,” Elizabeth admitted. “I haven’t exactly been given a lot of time to think or plan for it. We weren’t expecting to return yet. This is all Cory’s fault.”
“Didn’t you want to see your mom again?”
“Not until Father said it was time.”
“But,” Charlie wrinkled her brow, feigning trying to make sense of it all. “If you weren’t planning to come back yet because it wasn’t time, then how is it you’re able to stay now that you’re here? I thought your lives were in danger.”
“Father says we’re safe now. He’s exposed those responsible for our banishment. They can’t harm us anymore, Father says.”
“So why didn’t he do that before?”
Elizabeth sighed and rolled her eyes. “Can we talk about something else, please?”
“Sure,” Charlie said, and invited herself inside.
“Thanks, I appreciate this,” Kevin shook Chase’s hand as they stood inside his office.
“Me, too,” Jamie chimed in.
“No problem,” the Mayor looked from one father to the next. “Just because I happen to believe the government has no right legislating marriage for anyone doesn’t mean I stand in the way of those misguided souls who actually want to go ahead and make it legal.”
“You’re doing a little more than stepping out of the way,” Steven took Jen’s hand. “Agreeing to perform the ceremony for us…”
“The least I can do after Carl Hutchins broke up your first attempt.” Chase looked over at Jamie. “I hope you don’t believe what Carl claimed about my being in on some kind of vendetta against your wife.”
“Seeing as I don’t believe a single word that comes out of that old buzzard’s mouth, I’d say you’re pretty safe on that score.”
“I’ve gone back to the Justice Department. We’ll get another warrant, and we’ll bring Carl in. Disappearing for three years doesn’t wipe the slate clean of the original charges. He still violated the conditions of his amnesty. He deserves to be back in jail.”
“He deserves to rot in Hell,” Jamie spat viciously, then pulled himself together enough to shake his head and smile apologetically at both Steven and Jen. “Not here,” he said. “Not now. This is your day. Sorry, guys.”
“If somebody did to my wife what Carl did to yours,” Steven pointed out. “I’d kill…” He changed his mind at the last minute, catching the warning look on Kevin’s face, and softened his stances to a more benign, “I don’t know if I’d be standing here as calmly as you are right now.“
“Here is precisely where I want to be,” Jamie reassured. “I wouldn’t miss my son getting married for anything. Or anyone.”
“Were you able to reach Kirkland?” Steven wondered. “He’s not answering my calls or texts.”
“Mine either. And,” Jamie filled Steven in. “He didn’t come home last night.”
“Exactly,” Jamie shrugged, indicating there was just so much they could do under the circumstances.
“You know,” Jen teased. “For all your big talk, you don’t have a wife… yet.”
Chase beckoned them both forward, reaching for a set of documents he’d prepared in advance. “I think we can close up that loophole right now….”
“The gall,” Carl began upon catching sight of Iris sashaying about the Cory Mansion.
“I could say the same about you,” Iris drawled.
“After everything you’ve done…”
“Prove it, Carl,” Iris challenged. “Produce a solitary piece of verification to back your flight of fancy regarding my alleged involvement in your tragically ineffective death sentence – I dare you.”
“Because of you, I was forced to spend three years away from my wife. My children were deprived of their mother.”
“So were Jamie’s. But you don’t seem nearly as upset about that.”
“If it weren’t for my intervention, Jamie’s daughters would have ended up dispossessed of her for the remainder of their natural lives. I daresay, I performed a greater kindness for Jamie’s offspring than he would ever see fit to carry out for mine.”
“He attempted to get you out of their lives. I’d say that was an equally noble endeavor.”
“He wasn’t the only one,” Carl said darkly. “You were all in on it. Every last one of you. There wasn’t a soul in this town which didn’t draw pleasure from the thought of Rachel and I being alienated permanently.”
“She refused to leave town with you,” Iris said. “Rachel – for probably the first time in her life – made a decision that put her children ahead of the current man in her life, and she wouldn’t let you take Cory and Elizabeth into your criminal exile, either. That’s why you stole them out from under her, faked your deaths and scurried off for parts unknown. Am I supposed to believe it’s a coincidence that Cory returned home first, leaving you and that teenage viper of yours to come snapping after him, like rabid dogs, in pursuit? That darling boy is the only scion from your bloodline to ever be worth a damn. He’s more Cory than Hutchins, I’d say. My father’s name serves him well.”
“I wouldn’t, if I were you, Iris. Say anything further, that is. As they mutter in the U.S. courts, it may well be held against you.”
“Speaking of courts, do you really think it’s a good idea to antagonize Chase Hamilton even more than you already have?”
“You think your pet monkey can protect you, Iris? You think his pathetic, provincial office will keep justice from being ultimately meted out?”
“It beats hiding behind Rachel’s skirts.”
“How dare you!”
“Claiming she was in on your plans from the start… We were all here. We all saw. Your betrayal devastated her. The woman was shattered. It was even worse than when Daddy died. Because then, she’d only lost her husband. You took her children away, too.”
“Rachel is an excellent actress… when she is required to be. She comprehended that a wholly convincing mourning was imperative in order to call off the dogs you and your associates from the compound had sicced on us.”
“I’ll have to ask Russ about Rachel’s dramatic abilities… in bed,” Iris smiled wickedly.
Carl’s face darkened, but his voice remained smooth as he countered, “My wife is indeed a thespian of the first order if she were able to feign even a token interest in a man who would lower his standards to the likes of you.”
“I guess you would be the expert on Rachel faking it,” Iris mused.
“Ah, there she is,” Carl clucked, satisfied. “There’s the gutter snipe who thought money might buy her breeding.”
“And you’re still the dissolute aristocrat, believing ill-gotten gains will secure your stay of execution - indefinitely.”
“You’ve stolen three years of my life already. I will not allow you to usurp so much as a minute more.”
“You took a decade from me,” Iris reminded. “You railroaded me into prison once. I assure you, it won’t be happening again.”
“Why, Iris, I’m a changed man.”
“And I’m a new woman.” She stretched her hand forward. “And a married one, at that.”
“One of us is lying,” Carl noted.
“How lucky we are then, that the truth always comes out in the end.”
“How very, very lucky, indeed.”
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