“Morgan said you were up to having visitors,” Jamie peeked around the examining room curtain and addressed the hospital bed where Olivia was now lying.
She nodded weakly, attempting to prop herself up, but only managing to raise her head before plopping back down on the pillows and pulling her blanket almost up to her neck. “Thank you for coming to see me.”
“Russ insisted,” Jamie said. “He’s very worried about you.”
“At least I have someone in my corner,” Olivia sniffled.
“You once had a lot of people in your corner,” Jamie said.
“But, not anymore?”
He hesitated, then admitted, “I’m sorry this happened, Olivia. It’s a horrible thing, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.”
“Well,” she brightened up. “At least it’s a start.”
“No. It’s an end. Now that there’s no baby, we can both put an end to this charade about me being the father.”
“What difference does it make now?” she demanded.
“None at all,” he agreed. “There’s no point in adjusting the record at this late stage of the game. But, there is also no point in continuing to pretend that you and I ever had a romantic relationship – or that we ever will have one.”
“Because the only thing you care about is Lorna, Lorna, Lorna,” Olivia sang snidely.
“Yes,” he told her simply. “Other than my children, there is no one I care about more than Lorna. She knows that I was lying about being the father of your baby. And she was willing to go along with it. Now she doesn’t have to. That’s one less obstacle to her coming home to me and our daughters. And yes, right now, that is pretty much the most important thing in the world to me.”
“So you’re kicking me to the curb? Seriously, Jamie? I just had a miscarriage. I can barely move, and you’re in here telling me to get lost?”
“You threatened my wife’s life,” he began.
Only to be cut off by Olivia amending, “And I’m not through yet!”
As Sarah and Kirkland had hoped, by the time Daisy woke up from her nap in the car, she was feeling much better about life in general.
She was feeling so chipper, in point of fact, babbling a mile a minute about this, that and every other thing her pre-school mind could conceive of, that Sarah risked asking, “Do you think we can talk a little bit about what happened at the church?”
Daisy thought about it for a moment, then nodded somberly, instantly clamming up.
Kirkland pulled the car into their driveway, then turned around so he could help Sarah talk to Daisy. He asked, “Were you there when Olivia fell down the stairs?”
“Yes,” Daisy said in a small voice.
“Did you see what happened?”
“Can you tell Mommy?” Sarah attempted to smile encouragingly.
“Marley and Olivia went fighting.”
“Fighting how?” Kirkland asked.
“Like this.” Daisy held up her arms and waved them in the air in front of her, the wrists flopping limply about.
“Who was hitting who?”
Sarah and Kirkland exchanged looks. That wasn’t exactly helpful.
“Who started it, then?” Kirkland asked.
“They were yelling,” Daisy said.
She shrugged. “I want to go home now. I want to see Daddy.”
“We’ll go in a minute,” Sarah promised, understanding their window of opportunity was closing by the second. “We’re just trying to figure out what happened. I know it was really scary for you.”
“They were yelling,” Daisy repeated. Followed by, “I want to see Daddy.”
“Okay,” Sarah sighed, giving up and indicating that Kirkland should do the same. “Let’s go see Daddy.”
“I want to tell him about the yelling!” Daisy perked up, running out of the car and up the front steps to the house.
She could barely wait for Sarah to open the door before zooming in and calling for Grant.
But Sarah saw him first.
He was by the window.
Lying, deathly still, on the floor.
“Here to gloat?” Olivia wondered, when Dennis – without Marley – proved to be her next visitor.
“Why would I do that?”
“All the cracks I made about your uterine-deficient fiancée. Guess I got what was coming to me, huh?”
“No one deserves this,” he told her. “I’m sorry.”
“It was yours,” Olivia said. “But, you knew that all along, didn’t you?”
Dennis blinked. “You said…”
“I lied to Jamie. You know how gullible he is. But, it was yours. And it was a boy.”
“How – how do you know that?”
“You mean about it being your baby? The timing.”
“No. I mean about it being a boy. I thought it was too early to…”
“I just had a feeling. And then I asked Morgan to check. He said I was right.”
“I was going to name him Elliot. After your dad. I know how bad you felt, changing your name to Wheeler. How it was this whim, and how much it hurt Elliot. So I thought, if we named the baby after him, that might make things better. I thought you’d like that.”
“So you were going to tell me?”
“Yeah. I was going to tell everybody. I was just waiting for you to finally marry Marley. I didn’t want to spend another twenty years of you blaming me and our kid for not getting your Happily Ever After with the Bland Blonde.”
“What happened up there, Olivia?” Dennis asked the question that had been haunting him for hours.
“She pushed me. Your precious Marley pushed me down the stairs.”
“Why would she do that?”
“Because she thought the baby was Jamie’s. Because she’s been obsessed with him for years. Because she thought, with Lorna gone, she’d finally get her chance. Only he went for me, instead. Not that it matters in the long run. It will always be Lorna, for Jamie. The rest of us can just go take a swan dive off…” Olivia began, then, realizing what she’d said, burst into tears.
“Oh, come on,” Dennis pleaded with her, looking around guiltily, as if he expected a nurse to come rushing in and blame Dennis for Olivia’s state. “Don’t. Please.”
“I can’t help it,” Olivia sobbed. “This baby was all I had left.”
“But, I thought you and Jamie were back…”
“He was only doing it because of the baby. Out of guilt. Lorna tried to kill his mom’s husband. She’s a raving lunatic, a danger to him and his kids – and still, he wants her more than me. When he came in here, it was to tell me to get out of his house.”
“You’re kidding! That doesn’t sound like Jamie.”
“Ask him, yourself. He wants me gone. He doesn’t even want to bring me home from the hospital. He’s done with me. He doesn’t give a damn where I go, as long as it’s far away from him.”
“Oh, come one,” Dennis perched awkwardly on the side of Olivia’s bed, wrapping first one arm around her shoulders, then another. “Don’t cry. It’s going to be okay.”
“How?” she demanded. “You’ve got Marley, Jamie’s got Lorna… What do I have? This baby was it, and now it’s gone. What am I supposed to do now?”
“You want me to give in?” Zeno frowned. “Turn my farm over to the county?”
“It’s a small price to pay for getting Allie out of jail,” Amanda struggled to make him see reason. “They’re talking about pressing attempted murder charges – of a political figure, no less. Do you know what the minimum penalty for that is? She could spend the rest of her life behind bars!”
“She won’t. She didn’t hurt anybody. And they had no right to be on my land, in the first place.”
“They had every right. And the paperwork to back it up.”
“We’re fighting them. Heck, even your mayor, Chase Hamilton, he’s on our side. He recommended a lawyer who’s big on private property rights – “
“What a shame your case is in Oakdale, not Bay City.”
“And the guy is doing it pro bono. He thinks we’re going to win.”
“Wonderful. But, that doesn’t help Allie in the slightest. I’ve had to get my daughter her own lawyer. Not that she’ll speak to him. The guy just quit. Which means it’s all up to me again. As usual.”
“Allie’s case is connected to mine. If we prove the state had no grounds to confiscate my land, then that means they had no right to be there, which means Allie was justified in defending herself.”
“And if not?”
Zeno didn’t exactly have an answer for that.
“You claim you love my daughter. She is willing to go to prison for you. What are you willing to do for her in return?”
“This… It’s not… Allie is behind me on this. She understands why my mother’s farm is so important to me.”
“She may understand, but I don’t care. Okay, try to keep up: This is your last chance. Bite the bullet and help me get Allie out of prison, and I will do everything in my power – and you know my resources; they’re substantial – to help you set up shop someplace else. If you don’t, then you become part of the problem. And if my solution to that problem involves destroying you and everything your mother worked for, trust me, I won’t hesitate for a moment. Now,” Amanda crossed her arms. “What do you say, Zeno?”
“Hi, Daddy,” Olivia sniffled when, finally, Russ was the one to visit her after she’d been moved into a private room.
“How are you feeling?” Russ asked, seemingly strangely disconnected from the events, as if he were merely going through the motions.
“Awful,” she admitted. “Empty.”
“Morgan said you didn’t need a blood transfusion. That’s good.”
“He also said there weren’t any broken bones from the fall. Lucky you.”
“Don’t they say that God looks out for drunks and little children? I wasn’t drunk, but, I’d have put up with a broken bone or two, if it meant the baby….”
“I was very worried about you, Olivia.”
“I’ve been worried since the beginning. When you told me that Jamie was the father and that he was refusing to take responsibility…. You know how I feel about Jamie. A part of me never stopped thinking of him as my son. So when you said… what you said what you said… I read him the riot act.”
“Don’t blame Jamie, Daddy. He had a lot going on, with Lorna and….”
“I told him I was ashamed of him. I told him he wasn’t the man I thought he was.” Russ sighed tiredly. “I went off on Marley, too. Today, in the waiting room. I accused her of still being in love with Jamie. Of being jealous of you the same way she was jealous of Lorna.”
“I think so, too,” Olivia bobbed her head up and down.
“That’s what Iris said, anyway. Just the other day. She said she was going to bring it up to Dennis to try and talk him out of marrying Marley.”
“I guess it didn’t work,” Olivia pondered glumly.
“While Dennis was in here earlier, I called Iris. I asked her whatever put the idea of Marley still being in love with Jamie in her head. At first, she couldn’t recall. And then she said maybe it was something you’d mentioned to her.”
Olivia shrugged. “It’s obvious to anyone with eyes. I mean, look what she did to me.”
“What she did to you,” Russ repeated, walking over to the foot of Olivia’s bed. He said, “I was so worried. Even though Morgan reassured…. Morgan is a surgeon,” her father noted abruptly, suddenly looking a decade older than he had the moment before.
“Why would a surgeon, and not an OBGYN, at that, take such an interest in your case?”
“Morgan is the one who brought me to the hospital. I think he felt responsible.”
“Still, shouldn’t he have paged Raya Ng for a consult, at least? She is your OB, isn’t she?”
“Well, actually…. I – I didn’t want… Because Jamie is on staff here… I didn’t want to make things awkward for him. So I’ve been seeing another doctor. In private practice.”
“Have you called him?”
“Not yet,” Olivia said in a small voice.
“It concerned me, you not being seen by an OB. Morgan is an excellent surgeon, but he’s not an expert. Neither am I, of course.”
But, Russ was on a roll. “Still, I was worried about you. So I took a look at your chart.”
“I – “
“It’s a good thing Morgan isn’t an OB. Because, if he were, as Chief of Staff, I’d be very worried. Especially since he diagnosed a miscarriage… when you were never pregnant in the first place.”
“Thank you for coming to see me, Mrs. Hutchins.” Chase stood when Rachel entered the room. He always stood whenever Rachel entered the room. She had long ago stopped seeing it as a sign of respect, and now merely visualized him as a marionette being jerked around on strings. She preferred it to the idea of Chase being an actual gentleman.
“I hope it’s because you’re going to tell me that you’ve caught my husband’s assailant. Although, I must say, that would be hard to do, considering my daughter-in-law is still walking free about my house.”
“Yes,” Chase agreed. “That is… odd.”
“Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer,” Rachel recycled Carl’s explanation from earlier. It was as good as anything she could currently come up with.
“Unfortunately, after a chat with Chief Burrell this afternoon, I regret to say that there is no physical evidence linking Lorna Frame to the crime.”
“My eyewitness account isn’t good enough?”
“No,” Chase harbored minimal reservations about informing her.
“Then why am I here?”
“I wanted to have a little chat about other possibilities.”
“Isn’t that the District Attorney’s job?”
“Have you met him?”
“Ah,” Rachel said.
“I assure you, this discussion is strictly off the record. A favor for Chief Burrell. And for you.”
Rachel snorted. “I can’t recall the last time you felt moved to do me a favor.”
“Well, your husband isn’t sitting in jail, right now. There’s that.”
“The Justice Department’s case fell apart due to the actions of your father-in-law. Favors had nothing to do with it.”
“I want to find whoever tried to kill your husband as much as you do.”
“So you can pin a medal on them?”
“Perhaps after they’ve served their jail term, yes.”
Rachel softened for a moment. “I hear you recommended a pro bono lawyer to take on my granddaughter’s friend’s case.”
Chase nodded. “I’m not a big fan of eminent domain.”
“That was… decent of you.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Hutchins. I know you’ve never believed me, and I don’t expect you to start now – but justice has always been my sole objective. I despise your husband. But, I do not condone vigilantes taking the law into their own hands.”
“So what do you need from me?”
“An opinion,” Chase said.
“And here I thought you had plenty of your own to go around.”
Chase smiled. “I would like to hear your thoughts on a potential suspect in your husband’s case that we have, up to this point, overlooked.”
“And who would that be?”
Rachel’s brow furrowed. “Wait a minute, you just told me that Lorna – “
“Your other daughter-in-law,” Chase corrected. “Donna Love Cory.”
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