“What’s the matter with you?” Charlie wondered as Elizabeth tore out of the BCU club; Charlie in hot pursuit until they both ended up in the parking lot, the humid August night a shock after the air-conditioning indoors.
“That guy had his hands all over me!”
“You were dancing! That’s the whole point!”
“I didn’t like it.”
“Well, then you tell him to stop. You don’t empty his ball sack into his guts then charge out like a lunatic.”
“I didn’t even want to come tonight.”
“Actually, you did. You told me you wanted to do some normal stuff, after all those years of your dad keeping you cooped up in a tower, watching your hair grow.”
“Would you stop ragging on my dad?”
“Fine. Faking your death and hiding your kids is a perfectly normal thing to do. My bad.”
“There were people trying to kill us!”
“What do you care?”
“Hey, I’m just trying to make conversation. Get you to chill out.”
“Yeah, well, I’m not very good at that.”
“I thought if I went out with you… did the stuff normal girls do… I could…”
“I could… be normal.”
“Night’s young.” Charlie indicated the door of the club. “Let’s go back in.”
“It… didn’t feel right.”
“Have a beer. You’d be surprised.”
“You weren’t drinking.”
“I can’t. Not with the medication I’m taking. I made a deal with my parents so they’d leave me alone and let me out of their sight once in a while. Besides, I’m driving. But, I’ll buy you one, if you want. I’m legal and I’ve got my ID.”
“No. It’s okay. It won’t change anything. It won’t make me suddenly know the right thing to do or how to act.”
“Is that what this is about?”
Elizabeth shrugged. “Sort of. You and everybody else, it comes naturally to you. You know what’s expected. You know what’s going to happen. You know what you want to have happen.”
“What do you want to have happen?” Charlie asked.
“I don’t know!”
“Oh.” Charlie said. And then, without another word, she leaned in and kissed her.
“Amanda!” Jamie was surprised to look up the next day and find his sister standing at his office door. “What are you doing here?”
“Am I bothering you?”
“I have a few minutes. What’s up? Is something wrong?”
“Well, Carl’s back, that’s not exactly good news.”
“No. But, it is old news. I suspect you didn’t come here to tell me that.”
“How are the girls?” Amanda wondered.
“Good. Zee is excited to start pre-school. Though I’m not sure how Devon feels about having her little sister invade her turf.”
“I know what you mean. I sometimes think the only reason I went to boarding school was so I wouldn’t risk running into Matt in the halls of Bay City Latin.”
“And I’m pretty sure that’s not why you came to see me, either.”
“You’ve gotten very suspicious in your old age, big brother.”
“I’m entitled, wouldn’t you say?” the previously jocular tone drained out of Jamie’s voice.
“Any progress on the Lorna front?” she asked, genuinely sympathetic.
“We went out on a date. I kissed her. She kissed me back.”
“And then she went running back into the safety of Carl’s bosom.”
Jamie shrugged. “How the hell do I know? He’s got her so confused she doesn’t know if she’s coming or going, much less whom she should be coming or going to.”
“Has she seen the girls?”
“No. And I wouldn’t want her to. For their sakes. I haven’t told them anything. Thank God they haven’t learned how to read yet. Or Google.”
“I can’t imagine Lorna will be able to keep her distance for long. And this is me saying it, so you know… that maternal instinct, it’s a pretty powerful thing.”
“So is sibling instinct,” Jamie leaned forward. “Alright, out with it, Amanda. You’ve stalled long enough.”
She sighed, recognizing that what he said was true and giving herself one more second to try and think of some way out of this. Nothing sprang immediately – or even slowly – to mind.
“I had some tests run recently.”
“What kinds of tests?”
“I’d rather not say.”
“Excuse me? If you’re here for a medical opinion, it’s going to be a little tricky for me to diagnose without knowing what the problem is.”
“I do want you to give me your medical opinion. That’s why I’m not telling you what kind of tests they were.”
“I’m sorry, Amanda. I know I’ve got a lot on my mind these days, but I’m afraid you’ve lost me.”
“If I tell you what kind of tests they were and why I had them run in the first place, you might get a preconceived notion of what the diagnosis is. I already got that much from my regular doctor. What I want you to do is take a look at the test results and tell me what you see without being influenced one way or the other in advance. Does that make sense?”
“Kind of. That’s not exactly how we do things around here, though.”
“I’m not asking you to help in an official capacity. I just want you to come down to the lab with me and give the results a once over. No muss, no fuss. Would you do that for me, Jamie? Please? You’re really the only one I can trust.”
“I know it doesn’t make up for what he did to you,” Dennis told Marley while rubbing her shoulders as the two of them sat in his bed. “But, at least now Alice knows about Lucas trying to kill you. And they’ve broken up over it. That’s something, isn’t it?”
“You’re sweet,” Marley turned around to give Dennis a kiss, her fingers trailing down his stomach until she’d cupped him in her hand, triggering a moan of pleasure in response. “You’d do anything for me, wouldn’t you?”
“Anything,” he swore, laying down, taking Marley with him.
“I’ve been worried,” Marley told Dennis, her hand continuing it’s caress, her tongue flicking in and out of Dennis’ ear.
“About what?” he gasped. Barely.
“Sarah?” In between all of Marley’s ministrations, Dennis was having a spot of trouble not just remembering who his daughter was, but what she had to do with Marley.
“She’s dating someone new, and I’m worried about the effect that might have on Daisy.”
“Hm,” was the most Dennis managed to summon up at this point.
“We can’t just have anyone around that child. I need to know who Sarah is seeing.”
Barely able to keep himself in check, Dennis reached for Marley.
But, she was still talking. “Will you find out for me, Dennis? Find out who this boy is and how serious they are?”
“Absolutely,” he swore, gritting his teeth, knowing how much Marley hated to be rushed. Or interrupted.
“Thank you,” she exhaled, sliding underneath him, opening her legs and guiding Dennis inside of her a split second before he lost all control. “I knew I could count on you.”
“This is your idea of a romantic spot?” Lorna looked around critically. “The hospital morgue?”
“It’s not a morgue!” Morgan protested. “It’s a lab!”
“You got Frankenstein’s monster here?”
“That would actually be the morgue.”
“Well, no. I mean, yes, since Frankenstein was made out of reanimated body parts, that would more likely mean the morgue. And this is a lab.”
Lorna studied him for a long moment before asking, “Why am I here?”
“Because I wanted to see you. And I’ve got a busy day ahead and the lab techs always take lunch exactly at noon and they’re gone exactly an hour. Union rules.”
“You wanted to see me in a lab?”
“I wanted to see you alone. And I couldn’t wait until I had the day off. Besides, I wasn’t sure if you wanted to risk being seen coming to my place, and I certainly couldn’t come to your place…”
“You mean Carl’s place.”
“I mean Jamie’s mother’s place.”
“It’s none of Jamie’s business who I see or what I do.”
“Exactly. But, you know, why make trouble?” He approached her, smiling. “When we could make love, instead.”
Lorna laughed. “Did that line ever work for you?”
“So you figured, what the heck, let’s give it a try with the brain-damaged girl?”
“There is nothing damaged about you,” Morgan stressed, pulling Lorna even closer.
She let him, even as she pointed out, “Boy, then you must not really know me at all.”
“Is it my fault I think all your bugs are features?” Morgan asked, leaning in to kiss her, thrilled when she didn’t put up a fight.
“I’m sorry about the scene last night,” Rachel began upon arriving at Felicia’s house – and making sure Eduardo wasn’t anywhere in residence. “Carl honestly didn’t mean to upset you. He was just trying to encourage you to make a new future with Lorna instead of clinging to the past. To be fair, he’s spent a lot more time with her than any of the rest of us. He might have insights we lack.”
Felicia nodded thoughtfully. “I’m so desperate I’ll take any advice at this point. Though, I have to admit, it breaks my heart that Lorna might never remember everything we’ve been through as mother and daughter. She and I have stood in this exact same spot once before. It hurt like hell.”
“I’ll talk to her,” Rachel promised. “Tell her about you. She came to me about Jamie.”
“And what did you say?”
“That it’s impossible to know what really goes on in another couple’s relationship. But, you and her – that’s different. I’ll do my best.”
“Thank you,” Felicia said.
Rachel nodded, then deftly changed the subject. “You and Eduardo,” she began. “It’s… serious?”
Felicia shrugged. “You know how men like that look at women. All women. Still, it’s been a very long time since anyone’s looked at me like that.”
“He is a very charming man.”
“Yes. And, unlike Luke, listing my flaws isn’t one of his hobbies.”
“Lucas lied to you about knowing that Lorna was alive,” Rachel said. “Are you sure that Eduardo is being completely honest with you?”
Felicia’s head jerked up. “What do you mean?”
Rachel tread carefully. “Last night, Carl swore he and Eduardo had met before. Eduardo denied it. It made me wonder… how well do you know him? Eduardo, I mean.”
“How well should I know him?”
“Well, usually, people who are sketchy about their past, tend to be all-around… sketchy.”
“And you think not recognizing Carl qualifies as sketchy behavior?”
“I don’t know. It just made me wonder, that’s all. Don’t you think it was marvelously convenient that you and I should run into Eduardo while we’re in Paris looking for Carl? I mean, what was he doing in Paris?”
“What kind of business.”
Felicia shrugged. “My understanding is that Douglas’ mother came from a very wealthy family. When she died, she left holdings in multiple companies to Douglas. Except he’s not at all interested – you heard how Eduardo talks about the art world; he wishes his son were doing something more worthwhile. Eduardo manages Douglas’ interests for him. He travels all over the world for it.”
“Well, then, it’s very likely he and Carl could have crossed paths at some point.”
“Maybe Eduardo isn’t good with names.”
“Carl is pretty memorable,” Rachel noted dryly.
“You think Eduardo might be connected with the compound,” Felicia guessed.
“He certainly fits the profile. Rich, sophisticated, mysterious…”
“And why else would any man be interested in me?”
“I never said that!” Rachel shot back, having suspected Felicia might think so and prepared to counter immediately.
“You want me to do some digging?” her friend offered. “See what I can suss out about why Eduardo really came to Bay City?”
“Yes,” Rachel said simply. “I would. And I would be very, very grateful.”
“Why not?” Felicia shrugged, then added. “But, I warn you, Rachel, if Eduardo was in any way connected with what happened to Lorna, you and Carl are going to have to get in line. Though I doubt there’ll be much left after I get through with him.”
“Medicine isn’t magic,” Jamie lectured his sister as they walked down the hospital hallway and turned the corner to enter the lab. “It helps to have at least some basic information before making a judgment regarding….”
The rest of his words died on Jamie’s lips as he and Amanda passed through the swinging doors.
And barged in on Lorna kissing Morgan.
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