“We came to get Lorna’s things,” Jamie informed Carl and Rachel tersely as all four of them stood in the Cory foyer. “She’s moving in with me and the girls.”
“Moving in…” Rachel’s head swiveled Lorna’s way. “Does that mean… Does that mean you’ve regained your memory?”
Lorna looked from Rachel to Carl then back again. All three faces equally unreadable. Lorna swallowed hard and said, “No. I haven’t.”
Jamie shrugged, wanting to get off the topic as quickly as possible. “We’re going to give it a try anyway. Lorna finally believes that she was married to me. That we were in love. And she believes she’s Devon and Zee’s mother. So we’re trying to start fresh.”
“A complicated proposition,” Carl observed, eyes narrowed.
“It has its advantages,” Jamie said. “I figure we can all use a clean slate once in a while.”
“But this one offers you a distinctive upper hand.” Carl appeared to be speaking to Jamie, though his words were clearly meant for Lorna. “You could easily fill Lorna’s head with tall tales of a past she doesn’t possess the capacity to counter. You could paint an utterly false picture of your life together, take advantage of her injury…”
“What’s that they say, Carl, about not looking under the bed unless you’ve hidden there yourself once?”
“Be careful, my dear,” was Carl’s last bit of advice to Lorna.
She nodded, wordlessly.
“Actually, I’m glad you stopped by, Jamie,” Rachel said. “And I’m glad Lorna is making arrangements to live elsewhere.”
“I figured having her under your roof would get real old, real fast.”
“It isn’t that. She would have been welcome to stay indefinitely; I’ve already told Lorna as much. She’s family. But, it’s only that Carl and your brother and sister and I are leaving town shortly.”
“Where?” Jamie asked, more out of a lifelong instinct than anything else.
His mother shrugged. “We haven’t decided yet. Or how long we’ll be gone. I’m glad we’ll have the chance to say good-by, this way. Please pass it on to Steven and Kirkland, the little ones, too; though I’m not sure if they really know who I am at this point.”
“You sound like this trip might be permanent.”
“We can’t stay in Bay City. Not with Iris still walking free. It’s too dangerous.”
“And I’m sure Chase trying to get an indictment against Carl has nothing to do with it.”
“Chase is working with the compound,” Rachel said. “Yes, it’s true. He as much as admitted it to me. And they’ve been in bed with the justice department all along. That’s why the witch-hunt against Carl.”
“The United States justice department was after Carl at the compound’s behest?” Jamie asked skeptically.
“It’s why Chase went after you for Cecile’s murder. He was gunning to destroy us all.”
“Chase went after me because I confessed,” Jamie invoked fact over fantasy. “And how the hell would throwing me in jail hurt Carl in any way?”
“Chase made the obviously erroneous assumption that we were a family.”
Jamie sighed. “I’ll see if I can find Elizabeth and Cory before we leave tonight. Say good-bye.” He looked at Carl. “I didn’t get a chance to, last time.”
“What about me, Jamie?” Rachel all but blocked his path up the stairs. “Do you have anything to say to me?” Her for the last time was strongly implied.
“I’ll miss you, Mom,” he told her sincerely. “Then again, I’ve been missing you for years now.”
“Alright, let’s hear it,” Iris didn’t allow Grant to get a word in edgewise before she asked him, “What will it cost me to get you out of Sarah and Daisy’s lives for good?”
Grant’s laugh was more of a bark. He waved her away with his fingers. “Be gone. Your pocketbook has no power here.”
“I’m not talking about money,” she settled across from him. “I know you have plenty of that. But there must be something you want.”
“I want Sarah.”
“Or any reasonable teen-age facsimile, no doubt.”
“Sarah is not a teen-ager!” Grant wondered how old she’d have to be before the nay-sayers stopped throwing that in his face. “And she’s not replaceable.”
“You certainly gave it the old college try with Marley though, didn’t you? However, in this case, perhaps college is the wrong time frame. Shame middle age doesn’t carry the same pithy ring to it.”
“I failed,” Grant said. “I thought I could keep my distance from Sarah. Turns out I was wrong.”
“You were right to leave her alone. Sarah deserves to be happy.”
“I make her happy. I intend to spend the remainder of my life making her happy.”
“So that’s what, another year, two, tops?”
“I’d check my own birth certificate for expirations dates first, if I were you, Iris.”
“I’m not proposing to hook up with a young stud one-third my age!”
“Through no lack of trying on your part! I guess some problems, even that ample check-book of yours can’t fix. Feel free to add me to the Can’t Be Bought list.”
“How about Kirkland?” Iris wondered idly. “Just how much would you give to get back into Kirkland’s good graces?”
“As if you could make that happen.”
“Try not to underestimate me, Grant, it does not make you look particularly sensible.”
“You can’t even get your own son to put up with you, what possible sway could you have with mine?”
“None. But do you doubt that I could discredit Jamie to the point where yes, even you begin to look like the better alternative?”
“Whenever I’ve tried anything like that in the past, it’s always come back to bite me on the ass.”
“That’s because you’re a buffoon and an incompetent, Grant, everyone knows this.”
“I won’t give up Sarah,” Grant said. “Not for anyone. Besides, you needn’t worry about a thing, Iris. I have my own future plans for Kirkland.”
“Okay, enough work.” Steven stood behind Jen as she sat at her desk in their apartment and rested his hand on her book, suggesting that it should be closed and put away.
She turned around, smiling at him, “Isn’t that usually my line?”
“There’s a reason the two of us are together and not ruining the lives of two otherwise perfectly nice, lazy people.”
“So that’s the reason…” Jen allowed Steven to lead her away from the table and towards their bed, where he pulled her down next to him.
“Among others,” he mumbled into the crook of her neck.
“Care to remind me?”
“In a minute,” Steven abruptly stopped what he was doing and propped himself up on his elbows.
“Oh, this has got to be important.”
“I’ve been thinking… “ Steven glanced over at the textbook she’d left open. “You can do better.”
“Than you?” Jen cocked an eyebrow.
“Well, yes, but that’s not what I was referring to. You have a Bachelor’s from Yale and a Master’s from MIT. You can do a lot better than a lecturer position at a state university in the middle of nowhere.”
“It was good enough for you,” she pointed out, wondering where this was coming from. “You turned down CalTech and Stanford to stay here.”
“I was fourteen years old and I wanted to be near my family.” Steven took a deep breath. “I’m over that now.”
“What I mean is, when I first started at BCU, Dad was all alone, Kirkland was still a kid, and the twins were practically babies. If I’d left then, Bridget and Michele would never remember me, and Dad would have to deal with Kirk’s adolescent crap on his own. It’s different now. Dad has Lorna… or, you know, kind of; they’re getting there. Kirkland is grown and the girls are about to go off to college themselves. There’s nothing keeping me here. I have my doctorate now. You and I could go anywhere, find a top-notch research university, really get down to the business of making our mark. We’re just biding our time, here.”
“My dad is here, too,” Jen reminded. “And Alice.”
“I know. I’m not saying we’d never come back. That’s what holidays are for. Though, considering out last few family Thanksgivings, maybe we should stick to Arbor Day or something. We’d come back plenty. But, I think it’s time to go.”
“Leave Bay City?”
“Bay City. Illinois. Maybe even the United States. I just think it’s time to move on, Jen. We could both use a change of scene.”
“When were you thinking of going?” Jen fought the strong suspicion that he wasn’t telling her everything.
“As soon as possible,” Steven said.
“What was so important?” Lucas asked Felicia, arriving at her house as soon as he could after getting a call announcing she had something to tell him.
“Lorna!” Felicia pronounced triumphantly. “She was here!”
“To see you?”
Felicia shook her head. “She came with Jamie. They picked up the girls. Together.”
“Does that mean….”
“She still doesn’t remember,” Felicia broke it to him. “But she’s willing to be Devon and Mackenzie’s mother again. She’s willing to be Jamie’s wife.”
“How the hell did that happen?”
“I don’t know. And I don’t care. All I know is this is progress, real progress. If she’s willing to meet Jamie halfway….”
“We’re next?” Lucas guessed.
“It has to happen, doesn’t it?” she was practically pleading. “This is a step in the right direction. We might get our baby back, Luke!”
“And maybe manage not to lose her this time around,” Lucas observed dryly, instantly wondering if he’d gone too far, relieved when Felicia instead took his remark in the spirit it had been intended and laughed heartily.
“We’ll get this right eventually, won’t we?”
“I hope so,” he told her sincerely.
Trying to sound casual, Felicia asked, “You and Alice…”
“Over,” Lucas said. “You and Eduardo…”
“And done with,” she finished.
“So am I. For you, I mean. I do want you to be happy.”
“I think that ship sailed a long time ago,” he admitted without self-pity, merely self-awareness.
“That’s a shame. You deserve it.”
“Even after everything I’ve done? To you, especially?”
“The answer has to be yes,” Felicia said. “Or else I’d be forced to ask myself the same question.”
“You didn’t play dead from your family for seventeen years,” Lucas reminded.
“You didn’t drive away everyone who loved you. First by hiding in a bottle, then behind your grief.”
“No wonder Lorna doesn’t want to remember us!”
“Don’t say that, Luke, please.”
“I’m sorry.” He took Felicia’s hands and promised her, “Lorna will get her memory back. I’m sure of it. And then we’ll really get some answers.”
“Hey, Cory,” Frankie’s voice sounded ridiculously phony to her own ears, but she figured Rachel and Carl’s son didn’t know what she sounded like when she wasn’t lying.
“Hello, Mrs. Winthrop,” he said politely.
“I came to see your sister,” Frankie blurted out, despite Cory’s having expressed not an iota of interest regarding why she was standing, unaccompanied, in the mansion’s foyer. In fact, he’d appeared to be the in the process of just passing through and letting her be. But, Frankie couldn’t have that happening. “Charlie accidentally took Elizabeth’s phone when she was here earlier. I came to return it.”
“Would you like me to find Elizabeth for you?” Cory paused.
“No. Thank you. One of the staff is already on it.” Desperate to stall him, Frankie went on, “I know what it’s like.”
“Excuse me, Mrs. Winthrop?”
“Coming back from the dead,” Frankie tried to make it sound like a joke, though they both knew it was a real thing, especially in Bay City. “I did it myself a few years ago.”
“Yes. I remember.”
“We all thought you and your father and sister were dead. Lorna, too.”
“Did you know about it while you were gone?” Frankie wondered. “Or did you only find out once you got back here?”
“We knew,” he said curtly.
“So you had access to the news, the internet, phones, that sort of thing?”
“We were in hiding from the world,” Cory said. “The world wasn’t in hiding from us.”
“Yes,” Frankie said. “That’s the worst part, isn’t it? The worst part of being gone. How the world – and life – moves on without you. I left when Charlie was just a little girl. I came back to a teen-ager. It was a difficult adjustment.”
“You seem fine now,” Cory offered, his manners almost completely covering up his utter disinterest.
“So do you,” Frankie said, still making this up as she went along. “Though it must have been extra difficult for you. I, at least, couldn’t remember Cass and Charlie and the rest of my friends and family. You did. Your mother, in particular. You must have missed her a great deal.”
“Good thing you had the phone and the internet. You could stay in touch. Skype, that sort of thing…”
“No. We couldn’t.”
“Because Father said it was too risky. If we tried to contact Mom, his enemies could use the signals to track us down.”
“So you never spoke to her? Not once?”
Cory hesitated, then shook his head. “No.”
“You know, speaking of losing your memory, I can’t imagine what it was like for Lorna, waking up without hers, learning she’d lost almost twenty years of her life.”
“Hm.” Cory managed to say nothing at all while producing enough of a noise to make it seem like he was still participating in their conversation.
“How did it happen, anyway? I don’t think I ever got the details.”
“She fell,” Cory said dispassionately. “Hit her head.”
“What did you do? If the four of you were in hiding, it wasn’t as if your father could take her to a local hospital for treatment.”
“Father can always get whatever he needs,” Cory continued with his side-step.
“Did your mother help?” Frankie wondered. “Is that how you were able to arrange it?”
“No,” Cory repeated patiently, despite having already explained as much. “We didn’t have any contact with Mom at all.”
“Even in emergencies?”
“What could she have done?”
“Been your mom,” Frankie said gently. “Sometimes that’s all you really need when you’re scared and home feels like a million miles away.”
Cory blinked. For a moment, it looked like he was about to say something. But, the moment passed. Especially when Elizabeth entered the room, saw Frankie and Cory in what was obviously a fraught conversation and instantly narrowed her eyes, wondering, “What are the two of you talking about?”
“Not a good time, Olivia,” Dennis tried to maneuver his ex out of his apartment almost as soon as she showed up.
“I wanted to talk to you.”
“Later, okay? Is this about Sarah?”
“But, you’ve heard about her and Grant, right?”
“What?” That did distract Olivia from whatever she’d come to tell him somewhat, even if it didn’t get her out of Dennis’ apartment. “What about Sarah and Grant?”
“She’s agreed to marry him.”
“Are you kidding me? Where did you hear this?”
“Uhm,” Dennis hesitated, then admitted, “Marley.”
“Marley is running around town inviting people to her husband’s wedding?”
“He’s not her husband anymore. Well, he technically still is. But he won’t be for long. She’s left him. That’s why Grant went after Sarah again. Because Marley left him.”
“Can Harrison not handle sleeping alone even for one night?”
“Mom is losing her marbles over this. She tried talking Sarah out of it, but, you know our daughter, once she makes up her mind….”
“She follows through, if only so none of us have the chance to tell her I Told You So.”
“Maybe you can talk some sense into her,” Dennis urged. “No time like the present.”
“Why are you trying to get rid of me?” Olivia wondered.
“Because,” he sighed and admitted. “Marley is on her way over.”
“You and her…”
“Yeah. That’s why she finally left Grant. For me.” Dennis couldn’t help puffing out his chest a bit with pride. It felt good to finally win and get the girl – for a change.
“I’m sorry, Olivia, I didn’t mean to break it to you like that.”
“Why did you think you had to break anything to me?”
“Well, you know, it’s kind of awkward… you and me….”
“It wasn’t awkward when we did it,” she pointed out.
“Oh, come on, we both know it was a mistake. A slip up… You were upset about Jamie and I was upset about Marley…”
“You mean you guys were already together then?”
“We’ve been together for years,” he confessed.
“So Marley was cheating on Grant?”
“Go figure,” Olivia shook her head from side to side, impressed in spite of herself. “I never thought Goody Two Shoes Marley had it in her.”
“She loves me. She was only staying with Grant in order to…”
“Well…” Now that she put it like that, it didn’t make much sense. But, it always had whenever Marley explained it to him. “Daisy,” Dennis finally sputtered lamely. “It was because of Daisy.”
“And now she’s just giving her up without a fight?”
“It’s fine, don’t worry about it.” Dennis made another attempt at shuffling Olivia towards the door. “Marley and I are going to be just fine.”
“Okay,” Olivia said. “I won’t worry about it. But, maybe you should.”
“I’m pregnant, Dennis.”
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