“It’s a good thing Morgan isn’t an OB,” Russ informed his daughter as a horrified Olivia lay in her hospital bed, staring up at him mutely. “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.”
She swallowed hard. “Daddy…”
“Don’t!” Russ thundered. “Don’t you dare try to manipulate or lie your way out of this. I know how to read a goddamn medical chart! Just like Dr. Winthrop knows exactly how much fraud he can get away with without losing his medical license.”
“I had no choice,” she tried to make him understand. “After Lorna came back… how else could I have kept Jamie?”
“Except by fabricating a child that didn’t exist, then making it seem like Jamie was the villain for not wanting any part of it?”
“But he didn’t want any part of it,” Olivia insisted. “Jamie didn’t know I was faking the pregnancy, and he still didn’t want me. I never lied about that.”
“And why drag Dennis and Marley into it? For spite? For sport?”
“Marley pushed me,” Olivia stubbornly stuck to her story. “She didn’t know I wasn’t really pregnant either, but she still shoved me down the stairs. Marley thought I was pregnant with Jamie’s baby, and she couldn’t stand it. This is just like Lorna all over again. Damn it, Daddy, back then, you stood by Jamie. You made it so Morgan couldn’t order Lorna to get an abortion. You stuck by Jamie, but you won’t stick up for me?”
For a moment, a stricken Russ looked as if his head might explode from the hodgepodge of nonsense Olivia had dumped on him. He stood frozen in place, simply attempting to absorb all she’d accused him of.
Finally, battle-weary, he asked, “Is anything ever – ever – your fault, Olivia?”
“They made me do it, Daddy. All of them, they left me no choice.”
Her father exhaled slowly. He approached the bed and he peered down at Olivia. Voice shaking, Russ confessed, “That’s what I used to think. Every time I would hit Sharlene, I would tell myself that she made me do it. That she’d left me no choice in the matter.”
“Daddy!” Olivia shook her head. “No, I didn’t mean…”
“I had excellent reasons for doing what I did. Well, at least I told myself they were excellent reasons. After all, Sharlene had lied to me. She never told me she was once a prostitute. I never would have married her if I’d known. How else was a man supposed to react under the circumstances, but by getting drunk and beating a woman, all so I could feel better about myself and the way I’d been played for a fool?”
“Stop it,” Olivia covered her ears. “I don’t want to hear this.”
“And I don’t want to see this,” Russ swept his hand around the room, encompassing their entire situation. “But neither one of us exactly has a choice in the matter.”
“What are you going to do?” In the end, that was really all Olivia cared about. “Are you going to tell Jamie and Marley?”
“How did you get Morgan to go along with this, anyway?” Russ asked idly, realizing he was stalling on answering Olivia’s question but, nonetheless, taking the coward’s way out for just a little while longer.
“I… know some things about him. Things he wouldn’t want exposed.”
“Does it have to do with his work at the hospital?”
“No,” Olivia swore. “Not at all. Personal things.”
“So we can add blackmail to your list of recent activities. Wonderful.”
“Are you going to rat me out?” Olivia repeated, more urgently this time.
Russ sighed. “No.”
Olivia’s entire body sagged in relief. “Thank you, Daddy.”
“Don’t thank me yet,” he warned. “Wait to hear what I am going to do.”
“He was just lying there,” Sarah babbled nervously to the attendants who were speeding Grant’s unconscious body from the ambulance, into the Hospital ICU, and out of her sight. Bringing up the rear was Kirkland, still dressed in his tux from the wedding, holding a terrified Daisy, who’d screamed and refused to remain at the house alone with her brother, meaning all three of them ended up accompanying Grant. “We came home, and there he was. I don’t know what happened.”
The nurse asked Sarah several more questions, all of which she was forced to answer with, “I don’t know.”
“We’ll keep you posted,” the woman promised. Failing to add that it might very well take several hours.
Sarah and Kirkland ended up waiting there until after midnight, first trying to keep Daisy entertained with their respective cell phones, then scrounging up something for her to eat from the cafeteria, and finally making a bed from a pair of chairs, facing each other, where she could curl up and fall asleep under Kirkland’s jacket.
“Let me take her home,” Kirkland offered. “She’s so tired, she won’t even notice you’re not there.”
“Trust me, you do not want her waking you up in the middle of the night, demanding her Mommy. Daisy does not take no for an answer well.”
“Neither do you, if I recall.”
Sarah winced, then reached over to squeeze Kirkland’s wrist. “Thanks for sticking around.”
“You’re welcome. Though it’s not like I did any good. Listen, do you want me to call my dad and ask if – “
“I doubt your dad would appreciate getting dragged out of bed to deal with Grant.”
“Wouldn’t be the first time,” Kirkland reminded.
“It’s okay. If I wanted special treatment, I could call my Grandpa Russ. But, like I said, no one – relative or not – would be exactly eager to put themselves out for Grant.”
“Hey, he’s family now.”
“That doesn’t seem to matter much to you,” Sarah hadn’t meant to sound accusatory, but she realized that’s exactly how it came out.
Kirkland didn’t take offense. “You’re right,” he said.
“If he died right now, would you even care?”
Sarah snorted in disbelief.
“Because it would hurt you,” he explained. “And I would hate to see anything hurt you.”
Sarah opened her mouth to respond – though she wasn’t sure what she intended to say – when they were both interrupted by Alice coming into the waiting area. Sarah leapt up from her seat, with Kirkland instinctively doing the same, but with a great deal less urgency.
Seeing the terror on Sarah’s face, the first thing Alice said was, “He’s alright.” She’d barely given her great-niece the chance to exhale, though, before following up with, “He had a Transient Ischemic Attack.”
“A mini-stroke,” Kirkland translated.
Alice looked at him, impressed.
“Doctor’s son,” he reminded.
“Grant had a stroke?” Sarah gasped.
“A very minor one,” Alice assured. “He should make a complete recovery. This time.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means that a large percentage of people who suffer a mini-stroke, go on to suffer a major one within ninety days. Especially if there is a family pre-disposition for it, like there is here. Spencer had a stroke when he was about Grant’s age. A severe one. So we’re going to take every precaution.”
“Tell me what I have to do,” Sarah braced herself.
Alice couldn’t help smiling at the young woman’s determination, even as she told her sympathetically but honestly, “It’s possible you may need to change every aspect of your life. Effective immediately.”
Lorna’s early morning showers were usually not the site of much social activity. Though considering how Carl seemed to have eyes in the back of his head – and who knew where else? – Lorna never exactly assumed she was completely alone, either.
That was why, when she heard a noise on the other side of her shower curtain – the bathroom door opening and closing, the lock being snapped, footsteps – she took note… but didn’t panic. She merely turned around and braced herself for whatever calamity was about to come flying at her next.
Lorna was prepared for pretty much anything.
Except for Jamie standing there, wearing that ridiculous, goofy, unbelievably endearing smile on his face… and nothing else on the rest of him.
“Room for one more?” he asked politely, eyes twinkling.
“Get in here.” Lorna instinctively pulled him inside. She allowed him to kiss her, even as, in between, Lorna couldn’t help asking, “How the hell did you – “
“You’re not the only one who knows how to sneak into this place. I grew up here, remember?” His hands were on her back, his mouth on her neck, the remainder of Jamie’s answer lost somewhere in the depths of Lorna’s cleavage.
Not that she had any problems with that.
The only thing she did have a problem with was, “If Carl catches you…”
“Does he often watch you in the shower?”
“Oh, who the hell knows with Carl?”
“In that case,” Jamie straightened up, looking about the bathroom as if searching for the best angle. “Let’s show him how it’s done.”
“It’s no use,” Amanda lamented to GQ. “Talking to Zeno is a dead end. And talking to Allie is even worse. She’s decided to play martyr, and he’s encouraging her every step of the way. Of course, the fact that he’s the one who wins and she loses in this case is a point not even worth mentioning, apparently.”
GQ considered Amanda’s words, and then offered, “Sounds like Stockholm Syndrome.”
Amanda cocked her head to one side, considering it.
GQ went on, “You know, Patty Hearst, Jaycee Lee Dugard, some of Charles Manson’s girls… You isolate a person from their regular life, their support system; convince them you’re the only one who can keep them safe. It’s basically brain-washing.”
“And you think that might be the case with Allie?”
GQ shrugged. “Some of the details fit. I mean, you said Allie didn’t want to leave the farm, even though it’s dangerous. And now she’s done something she’d never do under normal circumstances, and she says it’s all for Zeno.”
“Exactly,” Amanda leapt on the explanation. “She isn’t acting like herself. I look into her eyes, and it’s like she isn’t there. Every word out of her mouth is about Zeno and how she needs to do this for him. Stockholm Syndrome! I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before!”
“If you can prove it,” GQ said. “You might be able to get her out of jail on the basis of her not being competent to contribute to her own defense.”
“But isn’t that part of Not Guilty By Reason of Mental Defect? I don’t want Allie to stand trial at all. A mental institution is hardly an improvement over jail.”
“Well, maybe if you could make Allie see how much power Zeno has over her, she’d be willing to turn on him. In that case, she’d become a witness for the state. No jail time, no hospital time either.”
“I can’t convince Allie to do anything these days. Though, I suppose I could push for her to be examined by a psychologist I hire. That would at least be a start.”
“Allie has to agree to that, I think.”
“Well, she definitely won’t if the idea comes from me.” Amanda hesitated, then figured she had nothing left to lose at this point. “GQ, would you talk to her?”
Lying on Lorna’s bed – or, at least, the bed she was temporarily occupying while living in Rachel’s house; Lorna’s head on his shoulder, his arm beneath the small of her back, Jamie could only murmur, “You have no idea how much I’ve missed you.”
“Oh, I think you demonstrated it most adequately.”
He kissed the top of her head, admitting, “When you were God-knows where, I thought it couldn’t get any worse than that. But now, when I know that you’re just across town… it takes every ounce of strength I have not to rush over here….”
“Didn’t manage to conquer the impulse today, did you?”
“Feeling sorry about it?”
He tilted up her chin to kiss Lorna fully, “Not even a little.”
“Me neither,” she assured him.
Lorna rolled Jamie over on his back, sliding her leg along his stomach until she was sitting and looking down on him, asking, “How long is this insanity supposed to last?”
“I don’t know,” he told her regretfully. About not knowing the answer, not about the position she’d settled herself in. That one was just fine by him.
“I do feel like I’m getting somewhere with Carl. He refuses to back up Rachel’s claim that they both saw me shoot him. That’s definitely causing some tension between them.”
“And Mike says the D.A. is making noises about getting a warrant, but he hasn’t filed a request, and the clock is ticking. The cops have no physical evidence, no reliable eye-witness, no motive…”
“Oh, I’m sure Olivia would be happy to provide them with one.”
Jamie hesitated, and then he told Lorna, “Olivia lost her baby over Christmas.”
“Oh.” Lorna’s expression darkened. “That’s… rough.”
“But, at least she can’t hold that over your head anymore.”
“You’d think so. But you’d be wrong. Her latest public relations campaign involves painting me as the bastard who turned his back on a woman lying sick in the hospital after miscarrying his child.”
“I’m sorry,” Lorna said sincerely.
“I don’t give a damn,” Jamie corrected. “Except for my kids, whose opinions about me actually do matter – but I intend to have a talk with Steven and Kirkland as soon as this is all over – I really don’t care how the rest of Bay City sees me. Right now, we need to focus on getting you home and Carl out of our hair, once and for all.”
“I have an idea I’ve been considering,” Lorna ventured.
“It’s… risky. But, if it works, I think we might be able to solve all of our problems with one, well-placed strike.”
“Do it,” Jamie urged.
“Don’t you want to hear what the plan is first? You might not like it.”
“Do you like it?”
“Not really. But, I think it’s our best chance for having a peaceful future together.”
“Then forget about what I might think. Do whatever you think you need to. And know that there is nothing that would ever change the way I feel about you. I will always be on your side. And I will always be there for you to come home to.”
“Donna,” Rachel said, as if surprised to run into her daughter-in-law, rather than having been sitting in wait, counting the moments until she showed up.
“Why, hello, Rachel,” Donna walked the fine line between warmth and wariness that was the thrill of dealing with Matthew’s mother.
Rachel offered, “I understand Marley’s wedding didn’t… go exactly as planned.”
“A Bay City tradition, alas.” Donna sighed. “I must admit, I was so hoping matters would finally work out for Marley. After that farce of a marriage with Grant, she deserves some happiness. And Dennis does seem to love her. If anyone can pull Marley back from the brink she’s insisted on teetering over for so long, it’s him.”
Rachel said, “I can imagine how Marley feels. My first wedding to Carl…”
“Yes,” Donna recalled as if it were yesterday. “Iris.”
“I can’t believe it happened again,” Rachel threw her hands up in the air. “Another shooting. How much is one man supposed to take?”
Donna made a noncommittal noise and attempted to ease her way out of the room – and the conversation.
Except Rachel wasn’t having any of it. She blocked Donna’s exit to demand, “Who do you think shot Carl this time?”
“I – I thought you said – You said that you saw Lorna.”
“I saw a dark-haired woman who hates my husband,” Rachel said.
And Donna got the hint. “You aren’t suggesting that – “
“I haven’t forgotten the lengths you went to in order to keep Carl from his child. You were willing to let Jenna die to protect your secret!”
“Jenna’s death was the result of a medical condition.”
“That went untreated because you were keeping her, Dean and Felicia locked up!”
“Would you have let the Carl of forty years ago anywhere near a child of yours?”
“We aren’t talking about forty years ago. We’re talking about now.”
“The only reason I am standing here alive now is because you wouldn’t let Carl take his revenge on me the way he wanted. Isn’t that right, Rachel?”
“I wasn’t protecting you. I was protecting him.”
“Precisely, because you knew it was only a matter of time before he reverted to his old way. And he did. When he absconded with your children and Lorna.”
“Is that why you shot him?” Rachel demanded, eyes blazing. “You knew Carl was still furious with you over what happened to Jenna. Did you decide to get him before he got you? Is that why you tried to murder my husband in cold blood?”
“Are you going to tell?” Elizabeth asked Charlie, managing to both plead and challenge at the same time.
“I… no. But… don’t you… don’t you think… you should?”
“Why?” Elizabeth flipped her hair with one hand, mostly to distract from the shaking in her voice. “It’s only Lorna, after all. You used to hate her as much as I do.”
“Yeah, well, that was a long time ago. I was mad at her for trying to take Lori Ann away from us. But, that’s never going to happen now.”
“So just because she isn’t a threat to your family anymore, that doesn’t mean she isn’t a threat to mine.”
“But, I thought that was all over. She’s, like, your Dad’s best friend now.”
“Until she decides to betray him again, like she did before.”
“This is serious,” Charlie insisted. “It’s not like when you sent that sexual harassment document to BCZ. That was just stupid gossip. This is a murder charge.”
“Nobody’s arrested her yet, have they? What do you want to bet that Lorna will skate on this, same way she skated on everything else she’s ever done to Father?”
“But, she didn’t do this. She didn’t shoot him.”
“We don’t know that!” Elizabeth bristled.
“I thought you said…”
“I never said Lorna didn’t shoot him. I just told you about why I thought Mom said she did.”
“Still, you know something that could help the police. And Lorna.”
“Why do you care so much about helping her?” Elizabeth all but stomped her foot in frustration. “Why are you more worried about her than you are about me?”
“I am worried about you. I don’t want you to get in trouble.”
“Why not?” Elizabeth challenged.
“That’s a stupid thing to ask.”
“So why don’t you answer it then?”
“You know why.”
“Is it because you…” Elizabeth’s bravado abandoned her at that particular point.
“I don’t know,” Charlie mumbled.
“But that may be why, right?”
“It’s possible,” Elizabeth insisted, ducking her head, then raising it so that she could kiss Charlie.
“So what do you care,” Elizabeth repeated, this time boldly cupping Charlie’s face between her hands. Always before, she’d let Charlie make the first move and set the pace. Not anymore. Elizabeth wasn’t letting anything – or anyone – hold her back now. “It’s only Lorna….”
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