“What are you going to do?” Amanda demanded of Olivia – after the latter had walked in on Sam’s ex-wife and Lorna’s ex-husband in a most… picturesque position on the floor of his apartment.
Granted, Olivia had been hoping for Lorna and Morgan. That would have nipped Jamie’s worship of his wayward wife in the bud once and for all. But, Olivia was nothing if not the resourceful sort. She’d still find a way to make this work.
Morgan on the other hand, leapt up, awkwardly tugging on his pants even as he fumed, “How the hell did you get in here?”
Olivia shrugged innocently. “I may have snuck into your office at the hospital while you were in surgery and borrowed a key from your ring, copied it, then put it back without anyone being the wiser.”
“I could have you arrested!”
“Really?” Olivia perched a hand on her hip, looking at him quizzically. “You really want to draw more attention to what I found here?”
“This is none of your business,” Amanda snapped, wriggling into her crumpled dress, trying to maintain some semblance of dignity.
“You’re right,” Olivia agreed.
“So why don’t you turn around and get the hell out?”
“I dunno,” Olivia mused. “Looks like the mood’s already been broken…”
“Go to hell, Olivia,” Morgan chose a more abstract destination.
“All in good time.” She asked Amanda, “Where does Kevin think you are at this very moment?”
“My husband trusts me.”
“I could change that,” Olivia said. Then added, “But, you know, I’d rather not.”
“Then what’s the point of all this?” Morgan felt like he’d just lost the conversation’s thread.
Olivia said, “I was hoping to catch you with Lorna.”
“Are you seeing Lorna?” Amanda’s head whipped around, Olivia momentarily forgotten.
“Not even when I asked him to,” Olivia confessed. “I offered your boyfriend a fair swap. I’d help him get Lorna if he’d help me get Jamie. You’ll be relieved to know he declined. At least now I know why.”
“Even if Lorna did go back to Morgan, there’s no way Jamie would stoop so low as to – “
“Shut up,” Olivia cut her off briskly.
Amanda smiled, realizing she’d finally landed a shot.
“But now, I have a better idea.” Olivia looked from Amanda to Morgan. “Why tell Jamie what a slut his wife is, when I can show him?”
“What are you talking about?” Amanda indicated Olivia’s trusty camera. “You’re not seriously going to try and doctor those pictures – “
“Of course not. What do you think I am, an idiot?”
Amanda’s raised eyebrow answered that particular rhetorical question.
Olivia went on. “No, I’ve got something much more… three dimensional in mind. Morgan, you are going to get Lorna in a compromising position. And Amanda, you’re going to make sure that Jamie is there to see it.”
“No way,” Morgan began.
But Olivia was paying no attention. Her focus was squarely on Amanda. “Explain to Curly Top here what will happen if he refuses to go along.”
“She’ll show her pictures to Kevin,” Amanda predicted dully.
“So what?” Morgan shrugged. “Look, Amanda, this has been going on long enough. Call her bluff and we’ll – “
“Do what she says,” Amanda corrected. “You and I, we’re going to do exactly what Olivia says.”
“Daisy says you were asking her all sorts of strange questions about Sarah the other day,” Marley waited until Michele and Bridget had gone upstairs before confronting Grant.
Her husband looked up from his iPad, where he’d been alternating between the dismal financial news and Angry Birds – both rather indicative of his mood – to observe, “I didn’t think they were particularly strange.”
“She said you asked her about Mommy’s friends.”
“I did.” Grant sighed and put away the tablet to confide in Marley, “I have reason to believe that Sarah is seeing someone.”
“That’s good,” Marley shrugged dismissively. “It’s what we wanted from the start. The sooner she goes back to living a normal life for someone her age, the more likely she is to leave Daisy with us fulltime. It’s best for everyone.”
“What about the alternative? Have you considered that?”
“If Sarah is involved in a serious relationship, what’s to stop her from wanting to make a family with… whomever? She could decide Daisy is better of with them than with us.”
“We’d fight it,” Marley said simply. “Besides, be realistic: What boy Sarah’s age would want to take on the responsibility of a ready-made family?”
“Some do-gooder, Boy Scout type,” Grant mumbled. “Someone like Jamie.”
“You think Sarah is dating Jamie?” Marley could barely suppress her mirth.
“Obviously not. I was using him as an example. Someone like Jamie.”
“Those men, I assure you, are few and far between. And they don’t tend to fall for girls like Sarah. Sarah attracts a completely different kind of man. Her type is less… discriminating.”
“Lorna,” Grant reminded, wanting to give Marley a little of her own back for dismissing his concerns so blithely. “Jamie fell for Lorna. And for Vicky before that.”
“Jamie never loved Vicky. They had an affair, and produced Steven. I didn’t say that guys like Jamie don’t periodically get ensnared by girls like Sarah. Or like Lorna. But, it never lasts long. So even if that is the case with Sarah and her mystery man, I wouldn’t worry about it turning into something substantial.”
“I hope you’re right,” Grant mumbled. “Because I have no intention of losing my daughter to some… some… frat boy!”
“Why are you so sure it’s some kid?” Marley challenged teasingly. “Sarah has shown a definite taste for older men in the past. Though, quite frankly, why any sane, normal girl would prefer an old goat to a young buck…”
“It’s a kid,” Grant insisted. “I – I could tell. She looks – “
“Satisfied?” Marley inquired.
“Happy,” Grant was forced to admit. “She looks happy. Carefree. Young. She looks… young again.”
“She is young,” Marley reminded. “Which means she’s also immature and irresponsible and why she has no business playing house with our Daisy. I hope you let Sarah know that if we ever get a sense of her neglecting Daisy’s needs in anyway…”
“I told her that.”
“Good.” Marley leaned forward, surveying her husband with a fresh eye. “Are you… jealous, Grant?”
“Of course, I am,” he withdrew from her scrutiny, reaching for the iPad once again to hide behind. “I’m jealous of any man who might replace me in my daughter’s heart.”
“Your daughter’s heart,” Marley double-checked.
“This should hardly be news to you. Considering how I acted over Kirkland.“
“And Vicky. It wasn’t just Kirkland you resented Ryan stealing from you. It was also Vicky.”
“I was a different man, then,” Grant shifted uncomfortably in his chair. “I couldn’t bear watching Ryan succeed where I’d failed. Vicky loved him so much. He… he brought out the best in her. I brought out the worst. It was a hell of a blow to the ego. But, that didn’t mean – “
“You’re still in love with her,” Marley deliberately kept her pronouns and her tenses vague.
“Of course not,” Grant insisted, though whether or not he was talking about Vicky was left up to interpretation.
“My husband does not require your protection,” Iris informed Rachel haughtily, barging into the Cory house. “Most especially not protection from me.”
“Russ told you about my visit,” Rachel smiled, pleased.
“We laughed about it, he and I. Together. In bed.”
“You and Russ together is certainly good for a laugh, I agree.”
“I make Russ outstandingly happy.”
“There goes that sense of humor again. Should I assume that your threatening to have my children killed and driving my husband out of the country was yet another of your jovial pranks?”
“I did nothing of the sort. Carl’s claim is – “
“Legitimate. I’ve seen the paperwork, Iris, the cancelled checks. I’ve heard the tapes of you giving the order to have Elizabeth, Cory and Lorna killed.”
“And the compound eliminated Spencer over a file created out of thin air by Lucas and Carl. Do you think your husband has somehow lost his knack for subterfuge?”
“Carl doesn’t lie.”
Iris bark of a laugh echoed through the mansion.
“Not to me,” Rachel clarified. “Never to me. Our household doesn’t run like yours. Tell me something, if you truly have a scrap of genuine tender feeling for Russ, how on Earth do you justify putting him and the people he loves in the compound’s cross-hairs?”
“How did you do it, Rachel?” Iris shot back. “How did you go ahead and wed Carl, all the while knowing there was a more than reasonable chance of his past rearing its ugly head at any moment? You knew Carl had enemies – ones with legitimate axes to grind. Carl had to have told you that much – your relationship being so devoid of deceit, and all. How did you justify planting big, juicy targets on your children and your grandchildren’s backs, all in the name of an orgasmic roll in the hay?”
“I knew Carl would protect us,” Rachel countered, despite Iris’ low blow having knocked the air out of Rachel’s lungs.
“The way he protected Kirkland?”
“The way he protected Lorna. Carl risked his life for hers. He got her medical treatment when the cold, logical act would have been to leave her behind. He took care of my son’s wife – the son who’d treated him like dirt; who’d accused him of horrible, horrible things – in exactly the same way he took care of his own children.”
“And you don’t think I’m capable of the same where Russ and his family is concerned?”
“No,” Rachel said. “Because that would require a selflessness you simply don’t possess.”
“Maybe I just needed the right man to bring it out in me. You know, the way that Daddy turned you from a lying, manipulative, gold-digging gutter-snipe into the very different woman you are today.”
“And it would require a power and influence you won’t be enjoying for much longer.” Rachel advanced on her stepdaughter. “Every time either Carl or I have dealt with you, we’ve made a strategic mistake. We didn’t obliterate you completely. We allowed you to live to fight another day. Carl did it for my sake. And I did it for your father’s. No matter what you did, I could not bring myself to utterly destroy Mac’s daughter. You knew it all the time. And you used it against me. Well, not anymore. No matter how much I adored Mac, he would never expect me to sacrifice my children for his. This is it, Iris. This is the end of the road. You have used up the last of my goodwill. Now, I’ll do my best to leave Russ out of it. So will Carl. But I sincerely doubt that the compound will be equally as cautious. I hope to God Russ is spared. But, if he’s not, I want it understood – now and forever – that the blame will be entirely yours.”
“Come on,” Charlie beckoned to Elizabeth, dancing in a throng of equally enthusiastic revelers in the middle of Bay City U’s 18+ club, urging for her to join them.
Elizabeth demurred, sticking to her spot on the edge of the dance floor; not exactly a wallflower – Charlie hadn’t let her fade away that far, though not for Elizabeth’s lack of trying. She shook her head, then when Charlie kept insisting, fixated her gaze on a spot far above the undulating masses and merely pretended not to see her. The ceiling was, after all, indisputably fascinating.
But Charlie had never been particularly good at taking no – or being ignored – for an answer. If Mohammad wasn’t coming to the mountain, then she’d have a moment of Islam and grab Elizabeth by the hand, forcibly dragging her onto the dance floor.
“Don’t just stand there!” Charlie ordered. “Dance!”
“No,” Elizabeth wriggled out of Charlie’s grasp, attempting to retreat to her spot.
“Not with me,” Charlie laughed, misinterpreting Elizabeth’s look of discomfort. “How about…” she looked around selectively, finally settling on a guy in a black, tight-fitting T-shirt moving from girl to girl as he made his way across the floor. “Him.” And she gave Elizabeth a gentle shove in his direction.
Appreciating the gesture, Black T-Shirt Guy flashed Charlie a smile, then proceeded to do the same with Elizabeth, who kind of grimaced in return.
He began to move around her, as Elizabeth swayed, rather spastically, to the music.
Dancing by her, Charlie ducked her head to whisper – which, in a packed club, actually meant shouted, but casual like, “It’s not a cotillion, you actually need to shake something.”
The look Elizabeth flashed her in return suggested what she wanted to shake was Charlie for dragging her into this.
Figuring he was being helpful, Black T-Shirt Guy slid one hand onto Elizabeth’s shoulder and rested the other on her hip, helping her find the beat in the music so that, for a few moments there, they were actually moving in synch.
Elizabeth allowed him to guide her, loosening up some of her stiff posture and trying to match his movements.
Charlie rolled her eyes in relief and figured she could step away now, everything was under control.
Except that, a few seconds later, the guy attempted to move his hand down from Elizabeth’s hip in order to grab her butt.
And Elizabeth wasn’t having any of that.
She jerked away sharply, much to the guy’s surprise, raised her leg and ended up kneeing him in the balls.
As he doubled-over, she turned around and fled right past Charlie, out of the club.
“We are closed,” Dr. Miller’s nurse informed Matt and Donna when they doggedly showed up at the clinic. And without an appointment, no less!
“We understand,” Matt said. “We came to offer condolences on your loss.”
“You have. Now you may go.”
“Have you worked here long?” Donna strove for a just-us-girls tone, hoping to incite familiarity and thus confession.
“Yes,” the nurse said. And then promptly shut up.
“The perhaps you know my good friend, Anna Savenport,” Donna chirped brightly.
“The clinic does not release personal patient information.”
“Of course, of course. That’s why Anna speaks to highly of you, no doubt. But, it’s no secret she’s one of your most enthusiastic patients. She’s always attempting to get me to join her, here. I’m trying to remember the last time she popped in for a little… what should we call it? A little tune-up?”
“Your friend is an automobile?” the nurse asked. Without a trace of humor.
Nevertheless, Matt laughed in rather loud appreciation.
That went unappreciated.
Donna went on, “Now let me see, when was that… About two years ago, I think… Yes, yes, it was precisely two years ago, I remember, because she was here at the same time as Carl Hutchins. And Carl, I’m sure you know, is my husband’s stepfather.”
The nurse’s eyes narrowed. “Did you not tell the police that you were Iris Wheeler’s brother?”
Matt merely nodded, though he did wonder how the nurse was privy to what had supposedly been a confidential exchange.
“He’s both,” Donna explained. “His mother… got around.”
“Carl and Ann were here at the same time, weren’t they?” Matt double-checked. “That’s what they told us. When they were raving about the place, of course.”
“We are closed,” the nurse repeated.
And shut the door in both their faces.
“Carl, this is Eduardo Rivera,” Rachel awkwardly made the introductions when she and her husband ran into Felicia and her date over dinner at Tops. “His son is Douglas Rivera. You know, from the museum.”
“Ah, yes,” Carl nodded congenially, shaking Eduardo’s hand. “Rachel and I have been to many of his openings. Your son has an exquisite eye, a very talented young man.”
“Thank you,” Eduardo was equally gracious in return. “I tried to encourage Douglas to use his multiple talents for more productive endeavors. But, in the end, our children do have minds of their own, don’t they?”
“It can be a problem,” Carl admitted. Then wondered, “I am sorry, but I could swear… have we met before?”
“At the house,” Felicia said. “When you and Lorna first came back. Eduardo was there with me. You probably saw him then.”
“No,” Carl slowly shook his head. “Before then. Perhaps, in our younger days. Where are you from, if I may ask, Mr. Rivera?”
“Los Angeles,” he responded curtly. “By way of Cuba.”
“I once spent a great deal of time in Cuba. Pre-Castro, of course.”
“No. I cannot imagine you would have been very popular in Castro’s Cuba.”
“May I presume that you, too, got out just in time?”
“Yes. I was very fortunate.”
“So perhaps we knew each other then.”
“I very much doubt that,” Eduardo rested his hand on the small of Felicia’s back, subtly guiding her towards the door and away from this conversation. “A pleasure to make your acquaintance Mr. Hutchins. Nice to see you again, Mrs. Hutchins.”
Felicia understood what Eduardo was asking of her, but she couldn’t refrain from asking, “How’s Lorna?”
“Alright, I think,” Rachel said.
While Carl went even further, offering, “She seems to be acclimatizing well. Though, I must say, Jamie’s hounding of her…”
“I wouldn’t say he’s hounding her, Carl,” Rachel interjected with a look to Felicia that suggested she pay his take on the situation no mind.
“Has she said anything about me?” Felicia wondered.
“No,” Rachel broke it to her gently. “But, Carl is right, she does seem to be doing a lot better. I watched her with Cory the other day and – “
“Lorna was talking to Cory?” Carl asked sharply.
“Yes,” Rachel replied, surprised by the intensity of his reaction. “They were talking and laughing – that’s what I was about to tell Felicia. Lorna is becoming more comfortable with all of us. Maybe soon, she’ll be ready to get to know you again.”
“I don’t want Cory bothering Lorna, either,” Carl said. “Too much extraneous input will only confuse her at this delicate time. Lorna needs the time and space to draw her own conclusions about where her life will go henceforth. It’s the only way she’ll ever find any peace.”
“How can she draw her own conclusions when she doesn’t remember any of us?” Felicia demanded, horrified at the possibilities.
“Oh, come now, Fanny. It isn’t as if you raised Lorna from birth. No precious childhood memories have been lost. The two of you managed to find detente as adult strangers the first time around. I have no doubt you’re capable of doing so again.”
“Carl!” Rachel couldn’t believe his insensitivity.
“It won’t do anyone any good to mourn a past that’s eternally lost,” he insisted. “Felicia can waste her time attempting to jog Lorna’s memory, or she can spend it productively by creating new ones. I certainly know which option I’d choose if I were in her shoes.”
“Excuse us,” Eduardo intervened, this time having no trouble leading Felicia away prior to their situation becoming even more heated. “Good evening, Mr. and Mrs. Hutchins.”
|Receive email notification every time www.anotherworldtoday.com is updated|