“Is it true?” Marley demanded of Sarah and Kirkland. “Is Daisy back home? Is Dennis with her?” But before either had the chance to answer, her eyes drifted to settle on… “Grant?” Marley sputtered. “Oh, Jesus Christ, again?”
“Yup,” Kirkland confirmed. “Again.”
“Guess what they say is true: You really can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”
“Or a bitch,” Grant replied pleasantly.
Marley rolled her eyes, which she realized was as much of a cliché as Grant’s insult. But she couldn’t help it. The man pushed her buttons.
“Daisy is home,” Sarah confirmed. “But Dad wasn’t with her.”
“Where is he then?” Marley refocused on the original reason for her visit.
She turned to Grant. “Did you have anything to do with this?”
“Oh, please. What could I possibly want with your testosterone-puffed boy toy?”
“You wanted Daisy,” Marley accused. “And Dennis stood in your way.”
“If I’d wanted Daisy, I’d have left the country with her months ago. I had nothing to do with it.”
“Do you believe him?” Marley asked Sarah.
His wife hesitated, even as Grant beseeched, “Sarah… please… You know me.”
“Exactly,” Marley said.
“I don’t think the two are connected,” Kirkland ventured haltingly. “Daisy was returned alone. And then Grant… Lila told us about Grant. He didn’t come out of hiding on his own.”
“All the more proof that he was just lying in wait, biding his time until he could make a clean getaway with Daisy.”
“You’re not going to listen to her, are you?” Grant demanded.
“I’m certainly not going to listen to you,” Sarah retorted.
“And I’m not going to stand for this.” Grant turned and headed for the door. “Sarah, I – I’ll be in touch.”
“Please don’t be,” she said tonelessly.
“I love you,” he reminded.
“Please,” Sarah repeated. “Don’t be.”
“As for you, son…”
“Go to hell, Grant.”
“You’re out of your league.”
“At least I’m still welcome at home plate,” he snapped, prompting Sarah to giggle and Marley to look confused.
She pointed from Sarah to Kirkland. “Are the two of you…”
“Not for long,” Grant predicted, slamming the door behind him.
“I’m so sorry, I don’t mean to interrupt,” Donna put on her most Sincere Face of Maximum Contrition as she stepped into the Cory library, where Rachel and Matt had been holed up for seemingly hours.
“Certainly not.” Rachel’s maximum contrition was happy to give Donna’s a run for her money.
“How are you feeling?” Donna asked her mother-in-law.
“Matt is taking very good care of me,” she assured.
“I guess that means you’ll be up and around in no time! What a relief.” Donna turned to her husband, reminding, “Our dinner reservations are in thirty minutes. We need to leave right now if we’re going to make it.”
“Oh,” he checked his watch. “Sorry. I forgot. I promised Mom I’d have dinner with her. Everybody else is out.”
“No, darling, no,” Rachel shooed him with both hands. “I wouldn’t dream of spoiling your fun. Go, please. I’ll be perfectly fine here on my own.”
“Well, okay,” Matt began to get up.
Only for Donna to rest her hand on his shoulder and firmly press Matt back down again. “No, Matthew, stay. It’s obvious your mother needs you.”
“I wouldn’t dream of being so selfish as to monopolize Matt’s time,” Rachel said.
“Neither would I!” Donna echoed aggressively.
Confused, Matt looked from one to the other, then offered, “How about if Mom comes with us?”
“The reservation is for two,” Donna snapped, before pulling back to coo, “I fear she won’t be up to the trip. After all, isn’t that why Rachel needs your constant attention these days? She isn’t well. Perhaps you and I should join her at home?”
“Really?” Matt scrunched up his face to look at Donna.
“I wouldn’t dream of abandoning your mother in her hour of need.”
“Wow,” Matt said. “Lot of dreaming going on. It’s a regular dream come true.” He looked from one woman to the other, all the while thinking, “Or a nightmare.”
Nevertheless, Matt ruefully went off to inform the cook that there would be two more for dinner.
“Happy?” Rachel wondered sardonically behind her son’s back.
“As long as everyone is equally unhappy then yes,” Donna said. “I am.”
“I want you to arrest GQ Todd for rape,” Frankie informed Cass after Lori Ann had been put to bed and Charlie was safely out of the house.
“Excuse me?” Her husband all but physically recoiled from the force of her words. “What are you talking about? Rape? Rape of whom?”
“Allie Fowler. Tantalus,” Frankie added.
“GQ raped Allie? Weren’t they in a relationship years ago? Isn’t he Hudson’s biological father?”
“Are you saying you can’t rape someone you’re in a relationship with?”
“I’m not saying that at all, and you know it. But maybe you’d better start at the beginning.”
“Zeno told me that Allie and GQ slept together.”
“After Allie and Zeno got married.”
“And she told him this?”
“Because she loves him and she wants their marriage to work.”
“Don’t you see, Cass? That proves it. If Allie and GQ were having an affair, she wouldn’t have been so open with Zeno about it. GQ raped her.”
“Did Allie tell you this?”
“No. Zeno did.”
“I see… “ Cass sighed. “Frankie, come on, I know how much you love him. But, under the circumstances, Zeno is hardly a reliable witness of what precisely happened.”
“This isn’t coming from Zeno. He had no idea until I explained it to him. But, the fact is, Allie was distraught. They’d had a fight earlier. About GQ and Hudson, as a matter of fact. Allie went to a bar on the BCU campus. She’d already been drinking by the time GQ showed up. He got her drunk and then he took her back to his room.”
“And Allie had absolutely no personal agency in any of this?”
“She’d been drinking,” Frankie repeated more forcefully.
“So because she’d been drinking, Allie bears no responsibility for what happened?”
“Her judgment was obviously impaired. GQ took advantage of that.”
“Was he drinking, too?”
“Was GQ also drinking, like Allie?”
“I – don’t know.”
“So if Allie isn’t to blame for anything that happened because she was drunk, why doesn’t the same excuse apply to GQ?”
“We don’t know that he was drinking.”
“We don’t know that he wasn’t.”
“She was upset.”
“That doesn’t render her incapable of making her own decisions. Hell, if that were true, can you imagine my caseload just in Bay City alone?”
“Allie is a student at BCU. GQ is a teacher. That’s a gross violation.”
“Is he her teacher?”
“Why should that matter?”
“Frankie, those two go back a long way. This wasn’t some random college hook-up.”
“So now you’re using Allie’s sexual history against her? Just because she and GQ slept together years ago and she had his child, that doesn’t mean he didn’t force himself on her now. She’s married.”
“To a boy you consider your son.”
“To a boy who could have been our son. And right now, he needs our help. Can you imagine how Zeno feels after all this?”
“Of course I can.”
“We can fix this for him. You’re the District Attorney. You can set an example. You can stand up and say that rape is never acceptable under any circumstances. You can make a difference, not just for Zeno and Allie but for women all over the country. You can set a legal precedent, too. You can make it easier for girls in college to press charges and to get the justice they deserve. And you can help me prove to Zeno that I am on his side, and I always will be.”
“You’re doing Independent Study, too?” Charlie asked Cory when the two of them bumped into each other at the BCU Library, in the section where you could request special material.
He nodded. “I thought maybe I’d ease my way into college without sitting in a class full of students who all know that I shot my father.”
“Yeah. I’m doing it so I can go at my own pace. You know, in case I have another… incident… and am stuck finishing off my semester in the psych ward.”
“How have you been?” Cory asked, sounding genuinely concerned.
“You mean with the woo-woo?” Charlie made the crazy sign with her finger by her temple.
“I mean: How have you been?”
She shrugged, walking towards a table with Cory following. “My medication’s been working. Haven’t felt anymore urges to drown your niece.”
“It wasn’t your fault,” Cory said calmly. “You have an illness. It wasn’t – it’s not like my father, who knows perfectly well that what he’s doing is wrong. He has the capacity to stop himself at any time. He just chooses not to.”
Charlie admitted, “I try sometimes to go back and remember what was going on in my head then. So that if it ever happens again, I can recognize it, you know? But, I can’t. I can’t make the pieces fit. It’s like watching a movie with the picture and the sound all distorted. I don’t remember what I was thinking. I just remember it all making sense at the time.”
“How are things between you and Elizabeth?” Cory changed the subject, but whether for her sake or his, Charlie couldn’t tell.
“Good.” She bobbed her head up and down.
“She really fell hard for you.”
“Well, you know, I’m totally irresistible,” Charlie joked.
Cory, however, was dead serious. “She’s never been in love before. This is a big deal for her.”
“Oh, come on, we’re just fooling around.”
“Elizabeth’s not. She’s in love with you.”
“Well, I – That’s not my fault.”
“You’re not in love with her,” Cory observed. It wasn’t a question.
“I like her,” Charlie defended feebly.
“You seduced her in order to get information about Father. And then when your parents got on your case about it, you dug in your heels and now you’re stuck.”
“This is none of your business.”
“You don’t even really like girls. At least, not just girls, anyway.”
“And how the hell would you know that?”
Cory’s eyes locked into Charlie’s and refused to let go. She felt herself blushing. And not just on her cheeks.
“That – Your kissing me – You caught me off guard, that’s all. I was just being polite, kissing you back.”
“You liked it,” he said calmly.
“Yeah. So what? Everybody likes being kissed. It doesn’t matter who does it.”
“That,” Cory said. “Is where you’re wrong.” He held out his hand to her and asked, “Want me to prove it to you?”
“Working late?” Morgan popped his head into Lila’s office at City Hall.
She sighed, moving aside a pile of files so that she could see him. “The new Mayor’s passion for paperwork is exceeded only by his passion for fobbing it off on someone else.”
“Guess Chase ran things differently?”
“The guy is no Chase,” Lila agreed.
“You miss him.”
“I do. Then again, probably not nearly as much as Doug and their kids, so you can save your sympathy. And whatever else you came here for.”
“I came to tell you that you were right.”
“Always pleasant to hear.”
“There was something going on.”
“Between you and Amanda?”
“No. Well. Yes.”
“Not multiple choice, Morgan, get to the point.”
“Amanda was blackmailing me,” he blurted out. “She threatened to have you arrested as an accessory after the fact, because you knew about Steven and not Kevin really killing Horace – “
“Unless I broke up with you.”
“And you went along with it?”
It wasn’t the response Morgan had been expecting. “Well, yeah… I – I wanted to take care of you.”
“I’m pretty good at taking care of myself.”
“Amanda wasn’t kidding.”
“Neither am I. Where the hell do you get off, keeping a secret like that?”
“Hey, what are you getting mad at me for?” He held up both hands defensively. “Amanda is the one who tried to screw us over. I’m the one – “
“Who decided to make my decisions for me. Did you ever consider, even for a minute, coming
to me with this and letting me deal with it?”
“Well, no,” Morgan admitted.
“You - big, strong man, me - dumb, helpless twit?”
“Why are you even telling me any of this now?”
“Because. Amanda – she changed her mind.”
“So it’s not even because you found your balls and decided to start acting like a big boy? Great.”
“I am really not understanding this. I was looking out for you!”
“And now you think, what, I’ll just melt into your arms, full of gratitude for your grand sacrifice?”
“It was a pretty grand sacrifice,” Morgan pouted. “I really cared about you, Lila. I hated hurting you and having to give you up.”
“And I guess you just expected me to be sitting here quietly, waiting for you to finish slaying the dragon until you came back to sweep me off my feet?”
“I – I don’t know what I was expecting, to be honest.”
“Well, you’re out of luck.”
“I haven’t bee twiddling my thumbs, dreaming about you and doodling our initials into my Trapper Keeper.”
“Do they still make those?”
“I’ve moved on,” Lila said. “I’m with someone else now.”
In that moment, the door to her office opened again, and Lila smiled in triumph. “Grant!”
“Am I not just the most popular chap on the cell-block this week?” Carl observed as yet another visitor was escorted in to see him.
“Be careful what you wish for,” Lorna warned, sitting down and picking up the phone without any of Iris’ sanitary performance art.
“And precisely what drags you away from home and hearth this evening, my dear?”
“The same thing that always drags me away. You.”
“I am truly touched.”
“In the head,” she spat. “Shut and listen, Carl. I’ve read your indictment. Kidnapping me is a major chunk of the charges against you. I’m willing not to testify – I’ll blame my head injury, claim I can’t remember a damn thing….”
“In exchange for?” Carl’s tone stayed steady.
“You cutting Rachel loose. For good.”
He chuckled, “I fail to see how my marital status is your concern.
“Jamie and his mother aren’t speaking. He misses her, she misses him. The obstacle to both of them getting what they want is you. Remove you from the equation, everybody is happy.”
“And how do you propose I accomplish this feat?”
“Dump her. I’m talking definitively, no room for hope and a tearful reconciliation down the road. Then renegotiate your sentence without my kidnapping charges, and get lost. Out of town. Out of the country, preferably. Rachel will cry for a while, but Jamie will be there to pick up the pieces and eventually everything will go back to the way it was before you forced your way into all of our lives.”
“I should think your life is made easier by Rachel’s absence from Jamie’s. She is hardly your greatest admirer.”
“I want my husband to be happy, and me putting up with Rachel’s never-ending subtle digs in my direction is a fair price to pay for that.”
“Oh, dear. I never imagined you as the self-sacrificing sort.”
“I’m a stone-cold bitch and we both know it. You taught me how to play hardball, Carl. But I am willing to give up my last chance at vengeance. I’ll let you off the hook for kidnapping me, if you break your Stockholm Syndrome hold on Rachel so she can reunite with her family, and Jamie gets his mother back. This way, everybody wins.”
“Except for me,” Carl said.
“That,” Lorna smiled grimly. “Is the best part.”
|Receive email notification every time www.anotherworldtoday.com is updated|