“We just wanted to stop by and check how you were,” Jasmine sheepishly told Sarah as she and Kirkland followed Daisy’s mother inside her house. Sarah looked as if she didn’t exactly have the energy for company. But also as if she didn’t have the strength to send them away, either.
“I haven’t heard anything,” Sarah said dully. “Not a single thing. Everybody says the first twenty-four hours are the most important. And then it’s a week… It’s been a lot longer than a week. If I haven’t heard anything by now, the odds….”
“Are irrelevant,” Jasmine cut her off. “Look at how long Lorna, Cory and Elizabeth were gone. And they all came home.”
“Three years,” Sarah whimpered. “If Daisy is gone for three years, she won’t even remember me!”
“She will,” Kirkland vainly attempted to bolster her spirits. “My mom died when I wasn’t much older than Daisy, and I still remember her every day.”
“It’s not the same,” Sarah said. “You had Marley and Donna and Steven and your dad to remind you. What if whoever took Daisy wants her to forget her old life? They do that, you know. They have these baby-selling rings and they’ll give her a new name and new parents… She must be so scared right now.”
“It’s going to be okay.” Jasmine put her arms around Sarah for a quick hug. Then, looking for back-up, turned to Kirkland. “Tell her!”
He bobbed his head up and down frantically. “It’s going to be okay. Really. I – I got snatched, too? Remember? Couple of summers ago?”
Sarah remembered. The night Kirkland was kidnapped, she and Grant had gone to the 70s dance on the BCU campus. It was the first time she and Grant…. She didn’t think he’d ever forgiven himself for being so distracted while his son was in danger.
“Well, the guys who took me, they didn’t want to hurt me. They just wanted to use me against my grandfather. I’m sure that’s what’s going on here. And when they take someone to use as a pawn, they’re not going to hurt them, because then they’d lose their leverage.”
“But who took Daisy? And for what?”
“I don’t know,” Kirkland admitted, his attempt at comfort crumbling before all their eyes. “The
only thing I do know is that she’s coming home safe. Any day now, Sarah. Daisy is coming back any day now.”
With Jasmine’s arms still wrapped around her neck, Sarah’s eyes locked onto Kirkland’s. She swallowed hard, and then she nodded.
Jasmine smiled, relieved, and flashed Kirkland a grateful look. He grinned back weakly.
Sarah glanced from one of them to the other and offered, “You two don’t have to stay.” Though now it sounded like she actually wanted them to.
“It’s okay,” Jasmine said. “What are friends for?”
“Yeah,” Kirkland echoed hollowly. “Friends…”
“It’s not that much fun around here,” Sarah warned. “All I do is sit all tensed up, waiting for the phone to ring, then jump at every noise only to find out it’s the wind outside or the mail being delivered or – “
The doorbell made them all startle simultaneously, and Sarah to laugh nervously. “There. See. Exactly like that. Probably the paperboy collecting or something.”
Sarah opened the door.
And there, on the other side, stood Daisy.
Stepping out of the shower, wearing only a towel, Cass grabbed Frankie as she passed him on her out of their bedroom and asked, “How’d you like to fool around with Bay City’s new District Attorney?”
Frankie gave it some thought. “If I were forced to pick between him and the old District Attorney, I’d go with Chase… even if I wasn’t his type.”
“I meant the new, new District Attorney,” Cass clarified. He raised an eyebrow. “How about… me?”
“Back up.” Frankie made a rewind gesture with her fingers. “Explain.”
“Eduardo Rivera kept his word and had my law license reinstated.”
“Cass!” Frankie threw her arms around him. “That’s wonderful! Congratulations!”
“And then he offered me the job of District Attorney.”
“Resigned. Hutchins-phobia. He didn’t want to risk The Wrath of Carl.”
“Sensible,” Frankie said, then wondered, “Are you seriously considering…”
“Not if you object.”
“Oh.” Cass sat down slowly on the bed. This was unexpected. “Is it because you’re afraid of Carl coming after us and Lori Ann?”
“I’m always afraid of that. Especially after the stunt he pulled with Elizabeth and Cory. I still have nightmares over him deciding to take Lori Ann along, as well.”
“Then I’d think you’d want me in charge of locking Carl up and throwing away the key.”
Frankie sat down next to Cass, admitting, “I always saw you as the white knight riding up on his horse to protect the rights of the downtrodden.”
Cass considered her words. “You know, the downtrodden don’t always need to be defendants. Victims need their rights protected, too. I’d be on their side.”
“It just feels strange. You’d be prosecuting people like Allie and Zeno. They’ve just been to Hell and back, all because they were protecting their land from….”
“The Man?” Cass asked ironically.
“Yes. Exactly. You… you would become… The Man.”
“I’d also be prosecuting people like Carl. Someone who did terrible things to hundreds of people. And got away with it every single time. I’d also,” he hesitated for a moment, wondering if he dared go there, then screwing up his courage, added, “I’d also be prosecuting people like… Cecile.”
Frankie inhaled sharply.
“Just imagine how different our lives would have been if we’d ever crossed paths with a sympathetic prosecutor who’d been willing to go to the mat for us. I can be that person for somebody else.”
“But you’d also have to put away people like Kevin, who was just trying to save his daughter’s life.”
“Actually, that was another point Eduardo made in trying to talk me into taking the job. He said that, based on my own experience, I might be more empathetic, and not push for such hard sentences in extenuating circumstances.”
“The guy is good!”
“Yeah. I got the feeling I’m not the first person he’s smooth-talked.”
“Well, the sexy accent doesn’t hurt.”
“His accent? That’s what does it for you these days?” Cass swept Frankie in his arms. “I too can do the Latin Lover accent!”
“Actually,” she giggled as he kissed her neck. “That sounded more like Pepe LePew.”
“They’re both romance languages,” Cass murmured.
“And you’ve never had any trouble with that,” Frankie agreed.
“So what do you say?” With Cass’ towel now on the floor, he set to work on the sash of Frankie’s robe. “May I unsheathe the Sword of Justice?”
“Oh,” Frankie said innocently. “Is that what that is….”
Lying curled up naked next to Matt, Donna reached down her hand to languidly stroke him even as she raised her chin to his shoulder and whispered softly, “Matthew….”
“Hm?” Propped up on several pillows, he appeared perfectly content to remain as they were, without any superfluous conversation to muck up the works.
“I have been thinking…”
“And I like your train of thought.” Matthew shifted his hips just a little in order to get closer to Donna’s inquisitive fingers.
“About poor Rachel.”
A bit of a downer, but Matt was able to marshal his forces enough to overcome his wife caressing him… while discussing his mother.
“After everything she’s been through, I can imagine the last thing Rachel wishes to see across the breakfast table every morning is her newly incarcerated husband’s ex-wife.”
“Breakfast in bed?” Matt’s eye-lids rose to half-mast and he smiled dreamily. “Great idea.”
“No, Matthew,” Donna sighed, increasing her efforts… on both fronts. “What I meant was, I think we are being terribly insensitive to Rachel’s plight. What she needs now is peace and quiet. A chance to hole up and lick her wounds without any painful reminders of the past or what’s she’s recently lost.”
“That’s impossible,” Matt said. “I bet everything in this house reminds her of Carl.”
“True,” Donna agreed. Then, as if the thought had just spontaneously occurred to her, added, “But we don’t have to.”
“I spoke with Rachel earlier, and she made reference to Jenna. Carl’s descent, it all started with Jenna, in a way, don’t you think?”
“And I can’t imagine Rachel doesn’t think of it every time she looks at me. That’s why, Matthew, that’s why the kindest thing we can do for your mother is for the two of us to move out of the house, give her some space, as it were. It’s the least we owe her.”
Now that finally got Matt’s attention. He shifted away from Donna, sitting up to face her, eyes newly open. In the physical if not quite metaphorical sense, yet.
“You want to move out?”
“It’s time, darling. For Rachel’s sake. We’ve imposed on her far, far too long, especially under the circumstances.”
“I get what you’re saying,” Matt began, flustered.
“I knew you would.”
“But… I don’t think now is the right time for us to go. It’s like I told you in the hospital, I’m all Mom has left. Between Elizabeth’s attitude, Cory shooting Carl, Amanda pulling the stunt she did with her Cory Publishing stock, and Jamie….”
“Putting his wife ahead of his mother?” Donna said pointedly, the edge in her voice suggesting Matt might consider emulating his suddenly wiser older brother.
“They’ve all turned their backs on her. I can’t climb on that bandwagon, too.”
“For goodness’ sake, Matthew, I’m not suggesting you put her on an ice floe and set her adrift to die. I am merely proposing that it’s time you got a home of your own, like a grown man.” Again, emphasis on the last word to drive home her message.
Matt explained, “Mom thinks that if Jamie had never married Lorna, she would have never poisoned his mind against Carl, and none of this would have happened.
“Stuff and nonsense,” Donna dismissed. “It’s not as if Lorna made up a single of her grievances against Carl. And did Rachel seriously expect Jamie to smile politely and make small talk with the man who’d whored out his wife?”
“No,” Matt admitted. “But, still, I feel like if we were to move out – especially now – Mom would feel like it was Jamie and Lorna all over again. Like I’m choosing you over her.”
“And that would be wrong because….” Donna bristled.
“Because she needs me right now,” Matt repeated. “Look, I don’t talk about this much, because I don’t think about it much, but…. Jamie was Mom’s means to an end with Steve Frame. Amanda is Mac’s daughter, and Cory and Elizabeth are her miracle babies with Carl. I’m… I’ve always been the odd man out. I’m the one she didn’t want. I’m the one who is the living, breathing definition of an accident. She only slept with Mitch to save Mac’s life. Yeah, they had a thing afterwards, but if my mother had been given a choice in the matter, you can bet I wouldn’t be here today. Jamie and Amanda always told me how lucky I was that Mom babied me and didn’t pressure me and didn’t really expect much from me. I was allowed to do what I wanted. I wasn’t supposed to win her a man, or make my society debut so that Mom could live out her fantasies. She never asked me for anything… until now.”
“All the more reason for you to refuse! Think about it. Rachel took you for granted for years, and only now that Jamie and Amanda have finally washed their hands of jumping at her every command, did she turn to you. Truly, you should be insulted.”
“I know,” Matt agreed. “Except…”
“Except what?” Donna snapped.
“Yeah. Nice to be needed. Nice to be wanted. Nice to be… counted.”
“She is taking advantage of you.”
“She is. But. She’s my mother. And I’ve – I’ve been waiting for this my entire life.”
Dennis and Olivia searched first the house, then the span of the island, together and split up, several times, but the facts remained the same – Daisy was gone.
“What if she fell in the water?” Dennis wondered. “Or – “
“No,” Olivia shook her head. “That couldn’t have happened. We are obviously being watched. And Grant wouldn’t let anything happen to Daisy.”
“Grant,” Dennis repeated, still having trouble wrapping his head around Olivia’s revelation. “He’s behind all of this?”
Olivia nodded. “He couldn’t have just disappeared with Daisy. That would have been way too suspicious, especially considering some of the stuff he pulled with Vicky and Kirkland. So first he fakes his own death, then, months later, Daisy disappears. Nobody will ever connect the two.”
“Where do I fit in?”
“If Daisy is with you, that casts suspicion even further away from Grant. Plus, he gets to nip Marley’s happiness in the bud. Two birds, one stone.”
“Grant told you all this?”
“Some of it. The rest I pieced together myself.” Olivia buried her face in her hands. “I should have done something. I should have gone to the police, I should have at least warned Sarah.”
“Why didn’t you?”
“I didn’t have any proof! I ran into Grant completely by accident a few weeks back. We had
a conversation, I made accusations, he denied them…. What was I supposed to go to the police with? I had a nice, long chat with a dead man? They’d have thrown me into Clareview… if they even finished listening to what I was saying.”
“What about Sarah? You didn’t need any proof with her!”
“Didn’t I?” she challenged. “Sarah thinks Grant hung the moon. She thinks I’m the one who makes it disappear every thirty days. If I’d told her what had happened, who do you think she’d believe, me or Grant’s sainted memory?”
“If she thought he was a danger to Daisy….”
“I didn’t make the connection to Daisy until after she was gone. At the time I just thought it was Grant ducking out on Sarah yet again. And, frankly, I was happy about it. The sooner she got rid of that albatross about her neck, the better.”
“You sound like the way my mother used to talk about you.”
Sarah smiled ruefully. “Iris wasn’t wrong, was she? Look at the mess we’ve made of each other’s lives.”
“There’s Sarah,” Dennis promoted.
“And of her life, too. Let’s not romanticize this. We had a one-night stand that resulted in a baby neither of us really wanted, and a child we had no clue how to raise. We hurt her, we hurt each other and, you know what, I bet we carried that hurt into our future relationships. No wonder Jamie didn’t want anything to do with me. I was a mess and a half – and that’s coming from a guy who married Lorna Freaking Devon! And you and Marley – “
“Marley and I are fine,” Dennis cut her off abruptly.
“Right. That’s why you’re constantly tying yourself into knots trying to think of new and exciting ways to make her happy. And coming up empty every single time.”
“I do not – “
“Do you believe Marley was happy with you?”
“She said she was.”
“Was she telling the truth?”
“Marley doesn’t lie.”
Olivia snorted. “Sure. That’s why, as soon as she found out Sarah was yours, she ran right over to tell you.”
“That was a quarter of a century ago!”
“Face it, Dennis. We screwed each other up so badly, nobody else is ever going to want us. Which is a good thing, too. Because, from the looks of it, we’re never getting off this island. Not alive, anyway.”
“Who was that?” Zeno asked neutrally after walking in on Allie slamming down her cell-phone in fury.
“GQ,” she seethed. “He wants me to come with him to see Hudson. He says he’s been asking about his birth mommy and why she never comes to visit him like his birth daddy does. Kid’s probably angling for more presents, that’s all it is.”
“Are you going to go?”
“You think I should?”
Zeno considered the question, then said, “Yeah….”
“I thought you were on my side about this!”
“Well, I don’t want to see him. That’s why I gave him up for adoption. He has a mom, and it’s not me. Everybody is better off that way.”
Zeno sighed, pulling up a chair and taking a seat next to Allie. He said, “I loved my mom. And I loved Mary – er, Frankie, too. I loved growing up here on the farm, there is very little that I would have changed about it. But, I was raised to believe that my father was nothing more than
a sperm donor – which, in this case, was definitely true – and that I didn’t need anyone but my mom, Girl Power, a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle, etc… etc… And that may have been true for my mother. But it wasn’t true for me. I wanted to know who my father was. What he was like. Why he decided to have a kid he’d never know. Was it just for the money? Was it some kind of an ego thing? Did he ever wonder about me? Hudson is going to have those questions, too. If not now, then eventually. GQ is filling in his piece of the puzzle. You owe it to Hudson to fill in yours.”
“So you are on his side,” Allie accused.
“Fine,” Zeno conceded. “If that’s how you want to look at it.”
Allie shook her head. “I should have known. You talk a good game but, in the end, you’re just like everyone else: Bad Allie.”
“That’s not it,” Zeno said evenly.
But his wife was already out the door.
Sarah shrieked. A horror movie shriek somehow infused with joy. She swept Daisy up in a hug and off the ground, spinning her around then setting her down, squeezing her arms and legs with her fingers as if Daisy had been injured, in order to convince herself she was real.
“Ow, Mommy, you’re hurting me,” the little girl wiggled out of Sarah’s grasp and ran up to Kirkland and Jasmine. “Hi!”
“Hi,” they both repeated, equally dazed, unable to stop looking from each other, to Sarah, to Daisy, then back again.
“Where have you been, baby?” Sarah pivoted Daisy to face her, smoothing down her hair, still in a state of pleasant shock.
“With Dennis,” Daisy reported matter-of-factly.
“And where is he?” Sarah looked over her shoulder as if her father might materialize in the same spot as Daisy had.
“How did you get home?” Kirkland asked.
“Did someone bring you?” Jasmine prompted.
“I was sleeping,” Daisy said.
The three adults spent the next hour trying to get something more coherent out of Daisy, but the child appeared utterly nonchalant about her entire experience. She asked for ice-cream, she asked for the stuffed pony she slept with and, after a while, she curled up on the edge of the couch and fell asleep again, even as Sarah, Jasmine and Kirkland continued cross-examining her.
“I don’t care,” Sarah whispered to Jazz and Kirk as they stood at the door, ready to leave. “I know I should, but, the fact is, I don’t care if we never find out what happened, as long as Daisy is safe and home with me.”
“I’m so happy for you,” Jasmine gushed as she gave Sarah yet another hug.
“Yeah, me, too,” Kirkland said, keeping his distance.
He drove Jasmine back to Rachel’s house, parking in the Cory driveway and unbuckling his seat-belt in anticipation of getting out and walking Jasmine to the door.
But she stopped him, resting her hand over the back of his palm, telling Kirkland there was something she needed to ask him, first.
Jasmine looked her boyfriend in the eye and wondered, “Are you in love with Sarah?”
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