“I’m pregnant, Dennis,” Olivia informed her ex – right after he’d informed her of his newly rekindled relationship with Marley.
“Come on…” Dennis stammered.
“Seems we’ve found one way in which we’re compatible. Not sure if it makes up for all the others.”
“Are you saying the baby is mine?” Dennis raised his arms, as if holding her at bay.
“Of course, it is. Whose else could it be?”
“How about Jamie’s, for starters?” Dennis reminded, “You guys were together for – what? – close to two years while Lorna was gone.”
“We weren’t,” Olivia said softly. “We weren’t together.”
“Don’t split hairs,” Dennis warned. “Yeah, sure, fine – he was still in love with his wife, you were just a bed-warmer, he dumped you the minute Lorna came home. That’s not the point. You guys were still – “
“We weren’t,” Olivia repeated, more fiercely this time, all but hissing the denial and deeply embarrassed to be confessing this to anyone, much less Dennis. “It was all an act, okay? Jamie and I only pretended to be involved.”
“What for?” Dennis asked, dumbfounded.
Rather than tell him the whole truth about that, Olivia only offered Jamie’s half of the motivation. “He didn’t want his kids to be worried about him. He said Kirkland wasn’t going away to college because he didn’t want to leave Jamie alone. Jamie needed to show that he was fine, that he’d moved on, so… me.”
“Alright. So that’s him. What was in it for you?”
She shrugged. “I loved him. I kept hoping maybe the lie would turn real, you know?”
“You’re lying,” Dennis accused.
“Oh, get over yourself! Do you think if I had a choice of baby daddies between you and Jamie you’d even make the top two?”
Stung, Dennis defended, “You said he didn’t want you. He’s got Lorna now – even with amnesia he prefers her to you. That means you’re expendable. So you probably figured you’d turn to the chump you managed to snow last time – “
“Who would you hit up for money then?”
“Iris,” Olivia splat. “She’d love a second chance to play Grandma, after missing most of Sarah’s life. And without you standing in her way. Even if I am the mother – again.”
“Good. Go to Iris, then. Because I’m not buying a word of this.” Dennis’ bravado turned to pleading. “Damn it, Olivia, try to understand. Marley and I… it’s going to work out for us – finally! I can’t let anything get in the way of that. I’ve spent years – decades – waiting for the stars to align our way. I love her.”
“I love you, too,” Marley announced, stepping through the door, looking from Dennis to Olivia, wondering, “Now who wants to fill me in on what exactly is about to get in the way of that?”
Every since their Skype call with Frankie and Cass, Matt and Donna had really and truly intended to continue with their sleuthing in Switzerland. Who knew it would prove so challenging to get out of their hotel room?
They’d initially only planned to spend a lazy morning in bed. After all, they’d earned it, with all their faking of heart-attacks (and attraction to that cow, Anna), not to mention their sneaking through the hospital halls to get the evidence of Lorna’s admittance.
Once Matt was discharged with a clean bill of health, they were only going to sleep in – well, alright, maybe spend the day together, but then it was right back to work.
Somehow, the day turned into a handful, and then into a week. And Matt and Donna were still enjoying being away from the pressures and the constant drama and the truly dreadful lack of privacy that came with living in Bay City, at Rachel and Carl’s house, specifically.
Save Matt’s regular calls to check in with Jasmine, they saw no one else except for each other – and the occasional room-service waiter or housekeeping maid.
“You really will give me a heart attack at this rate,” Matt panted as he and Donna came up for air only to realize that it was, once again, nighttime – too late to go out… again.
“Didn’t you say I was worth dying forth?” she teased playfully.
“And then some,” he confirmed.
“You’re not dead yet,” Donna observed.
“So that’s not rigor mortis?” he asked innocently.
“Not even close,” she laughed, mentally cursing all the lonely years she and Matthew had wasted not being together… and all the years they wouldn’t have in the future, due to her only being a tiny bit older than him.
“You know,” Matt mused, even as Donna proceeded to make up for lost time. “There’s still a question we haven’t answered.”
“Does anyone have a right to be as happy as we are at this very moment?”
“No. That one, I know the answer to.”
“Yes.” Matt told her, “You deserve everything. And a lot more, besides.”
“I have you. What else could I possibly need?”
“How about the answer to who killed our doctor friend? And, oh, yeah, why Iris had to speak to him just beforehand?”
“Thanks for coming in,” Amanda told her daughter awkwardly, as if Allie were an errant employee she needed to have a chat with about expense reports.
“Sure.” Allie smiled cheerfully. Which certainly was, if not a first, at least a long time coming. Amanda couldn’t remember the last time she’d seen her daughter in such a good mood. At least, not with Amanda in the room.
“How have you been?” Amanda figured they might as well start with generalities then work their way up to her primary point.
“You’re living at Zeno’s now?”
“And you’re… working there?”
“Yup.” There was that smile again.
“Doing what, exactly?”
“Whatever needs doing.”
“And what might that be?”
“Well, sometimes I try to help in the fields. But I don’t really know a lot about that, so my goal there is to primarily stay out of the way. But, there’s a ton of paperwork to be done. Federal stuff, state stuff, local…”
“You mean like taxes?”
“That’s the least of it. There are all these agencies peering over Zeno’s shoulder, looking for the slightest misplaced comma or mis-rounded number so they have an excuse to shut him down and take his land. They’re still on him about it. They want him to grow corn for ethanol, but he won’t, since he thinks it should be used to feed people not power cars. Because he won’t do what they say, they keep trying to use eminent domain against him. You know, claiming what they would do with his land would be best for the community. So we have to be really, really careful with all the paperwork.”
“That’s what you’re doing?” Amanda double-checked. “Glorified data entry?”
“It needs to be done,” Allie said stubbornly, proudly. “And Zeno doesn’t have time with everything else he has going on. So I’m helping him.”
“Allie,” Amanda fought to keep her voice non-judgmental. “Thanks to your grandfather, you have both a wonderful education and a substantial trust-fund. You want to do good in the world? Use both of those things to really make a difference. As it is, you are not only wasting your potential, you are taking the menial job that you are doing away from someone who could really use it, and can’t find anything any better.”
“You sound like the Oakdale City Council,” Allie observed.
“I’m sorry, what?”
“That’s the exact same argument they tried with Zeno. They told him he shouldn’t be wasting his time working a farm that only helps a couple dozen people, when he could be using it to help the entire planet.”
“And what did Zeno say to that?”
“He said it was his farm and he could do whatever he wanted with it. His mom set it up as a safe refuge for people who wanted to live independently, and the only way that was going to change on his watch was over Zeno’s dead body.”
“Allie!” Amanda startled. “Is Zeno – and you – are the two of you in danger?”
Allie shrugged and concentrated on a spot above Amanda’s head, her smile dimming just a little for the first time since she’d come in.
“I know what happened a few years ago, with the protestors and Zeno pulling a gun on them. Has there been more of that? Have matters escalated?”
“We’re okay,” Allie said. “Like I told you, as long as we continue doing everything completely by the book, they won’t be able to touch us. Well, they do keep on rewriting the book, but Zeno is used to that.”
“This isn’t like some… cult thing, is it?”
Allie laughed. “You’re welcome to come up and see for yourself anytime, Mom.”
“Well, yes, thank you. It’s just that I’m so busy right now…”
“I know,” Allie said. Then added, “It’s okay. We’ll manage fine without you.”
“Thanks for coming,” Sarah told Kirkland, sounding even more awkward than Amanda had with Allie earlier – if such a thing were possible.
“Yeah. Sure. I… uh… what is it?”
“I missed you,” Sarah said.
“What?” Kirkland didn’t know whether to gape or blink, so he combined the two. “Don’t you have your hands full? You know, with Grant and… stuff.”
Sarah nodded. “Everyone’s been by to lecture me. Iris… Marley…”
“Well, Marley knows what she’s talking about.”
“No, she doesn’t,” Sarah insisted.
“Okay,” Kirkland sighed, in no mood to argue. “Have it your way.”
“Everyone wants something from me,” Sarah reiterated. “Iris and Marley want me to dump Grant, and Grant wants me to marry him as soon as possible. And then there’s Daisy, she always needs something and….”
“And… I missed you. You never wanted anything from me.”
“I wouldn’t say that,” Kirkland blushed.
And Sarah couldn’t help laughing in return. “That was kind of a mutual thing. We hung out. No fighting, no obligations. It was… easy.”
“If you wanted easy, you shouldn’t have let Grant back into your life.”
“Why can’t I have both?” Sarah challenged.
“Why can’t I marry Grant, and still keep you as friend? I mean, we’re going to be family, right?”
“Right. Except I wouldn’t dwell too hard about exactly how.”
“I think Grant would be happy, you and me being friends.”
Kirkland cleared his throat. “Are you sure he doesn’t know about….”
“You think he does?”
“I don’t know. Like I said, when he came over, half the time I thought he was threatening me, and the other time I really believed he was asking for my help.”
“Well, he hasn’t said anything about it to me.”
“Grant is pretty good with long term lying and planning.”
“Why would he need to lie? Or plan? He’s getting what he wants. Me and Daisy. And maybe even you, too. I kept thinking about what I could get Grant as a wedding present, and then it hit me. I could get him you. It would mean everything to Grant if you might consider him a part of your family again.”
“I’ll think about it,” Kirkland said gruffly.
“And it would really mean a lot to me, if the two of us could stay friends, too.”
“You okay?” Lorna rubbed the back of Jamie’s neck as he sat on the couch, seemingly lost in thought. He’d pretty much been that way since they’re returned from the Cory Mansion. “What you said to your mom… that was pretty rough.”
“It was the truth,” Jamie exhaled sadly and leaned back until he was no longer staring straight ahead, but at the ceiling. “I am going to miss her. I’m going to miss the mother who loved and raised me and taught me right from wrong – even when she personally was having a little trouble sticking to the same. I’m going to miss the mother who took me and my kids in when we had nowhere else to go, and the one who, I suspect, would have broken the prison down bar by bar to keep me out of jail. I’m going to miss the mother I grew up with and looked up to and whose back I had no matter what – because she always had mine. But this woman, the one who makes excuses for a kidnapper and a killer – the guy who either made her think her own children were dead or convinced her to make me believe my wife was; honestly, I’m not sure which is worse… Her, I’m not going to miss at all.”
“I’m sorry,” Lorna sat down next to Jamie, kissing him. “This is all my fault.”
“No! That’s what Carl wanted you to think. It’s what he wanted Mom to think, too. He told her everything was fine before I hooked up with you, and you convinced me to turn Mom against him. We know it’s not true. I’m the one to blame, here.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. How?”
“After Kirkland was kidnapped, I could have bitten my tongue. I could have pretended I bought Carl’s bullshit about not being to blame, and not raised a fuss about the danger he posed to our family. I could have left well enough alone, not asked Mom to choose. And then Carl would have never left town.”
“He still might have,” Lorna pointed out. “Chase’s case against him was never about any of us. He has his own agenda.”
“At least he wouldn’t have taken you with him,” Jamie amended. “And we wouldn’t be where we are today, with you needing to pretend you don’t remember… Damn it, did you see Felicia’s face? She was devastated.”
Lorna nodded wordlessly.
“We’ll fix this. I promise. And soon. I won’t let Carl get away with this.”
“Me neither,” Lorna said. “But, we can’t jump the gun. We have to think this through, play every angle, consider all the possible outcomes….”
“Exactly like Carl would,” Jamie said grimly.
“It’s the only way to beat him at his own game.”
The doorbell rang.
Lorna stood up to answer it. Lucas stood on the other side. He looked from Lorna to Jamie and back again, and said, “I heard… Fanny told me… You’re… back.”
“Here,” Lorna said, her voice as strained now as it had been earlier at Felicia’s. “I’m only back here.”
“That’s the most important thing. Your babies need you. Your husband needs you.”
“Daddy!” A little girl’s shriek from upstairs got everyone’s attention. “Daddy, come!”
Jamie rose from the couch, apologetic. “Speaking of being urgently needed…. I’ll be right back…”
They watched him go, Lucas asking Lorna, “How have the girls reacted to your return?”
“Warily,” Lorna sighed. “I can’t really blame them. Nobody likes being blindsided by a total stranger claiming to be your mother.”
“I guess you’d know all about that, wouldn’t you?” Lucas noted gently.
Lorna began to nod thoughtfully, then did the math, realized what she was saying and stopped abruptly, changing the gesture to shaking her head, opening her mouth to deny.
But, it was too late. Lucas beamed. “I thought so,” he said.
“What? No – “
He ignored her to correct. “Yes. You remember, don’t you, Lorna?”
“What are you doing here?” Elizabeth peered at Frankie suspiciously. And, if Frankie did say so herself, rather nervously. She didn’t blame the girl. Carl and Rachel were right behind Elizabeth, and they seemed equally as eager to hear the answer. “Why are you talking to Cory?”
Frankie shrugged, attempting to laugh the entire incident off. “Nothing important. We were just making conversation, waiting for you.”
“What did you require with my daughter?” Carl asked in a tone equally as suspicious.
Frankie continued to look mystified as to why an innocent errand should have turned into a federal case this way. “To return her phone,” Frankie stretched the item in question towards Elizabeth. “Charlie took it accidentally, and I was in the neighborhood, so I thought I’d give it back.”
“Did you realize you’d misplaced your mobile telephone?” Carl asked Elizabeth.
“Uhm… not really. I don’t really have a lot of people to talk to, these days. It’s not like I go to school, have friends… or a life.”
Carl continued focusing on the phone and, by extension, Frankie. “That’s a rather old model, is it not? You’ve had it for how many years now, Elizabeth?”
“Two or three… maybe more,” Elizabeth scrunched up her face, confused and concerned by her father’s obvious displeasure.
“Hm,” Carl said.
Rachel didn’t seem too certain about what was going on, either. But, she knew enough to understand that if Carl were concerned, she should be concerned, too.
“I wish you’d have told us you were stopping by, Frankie. You know I always enjoy seeing you. If Carl and I hadn’t walked in right now, we might have never known you’d been here.”
“It really was just supposed to be a flyby. To return Elizabeth’s phone.”
“I shall remind my daughter to keep a better eye on her things,” Carl intoned, his gaze practically boring a hole through Frankie. He was also – and not particularly subtly, at that – blocking her one way out of the mansion.
“It’s no big deal,” Frankie insisted, hoping her message would be interpreted in all of its multiple possibilities. “These sorts of things happen, right?”
“Does not mean one should abandon one’s responsibilities towards keeping all personal carelessness to a minimum,” Carl was equally adept at multi-meaning proclamations. “It may seem like a minor matter, but the consequences might well be dire.”
“Of course. But, it’s to be expected, isn’t it? I mean, they’re young…”
“Age is no excuse, either.”
“And they’re in love,” Frankie blurted out, undeniably ambivalent but really needing to redirect Carl and Rachel’s attention. “We all know how that is. Don’t we? Who can think about phones when you’re in love the way Elizabeth and Charlie are?”
AWT is taking Columbus Day off. We'll see you on Thursday, October 17!
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