Walking swiftly, so as to get as far away from Cass' house as possible and avoid the risk of being overheard, Frankie hissed into her cell-phone, "I sympathize with your dilemma, Cecile, really I do. When you ply a person with amnesia drugs for close to a decade, it's hard to believe they actually remember anything at all. I understand how you might feel they need a friendly reminder once in a while. But, don't worry. I haven't forgotten our bargain. I stay away from Cass, and you stay the Hell away from my daughter."
Frankie stormed down the sidewalk, her voice rising as she was forced to leave her family further and further behind. "You know, you're really a piece of work. Anyone else, and I wouldn't think they'd have the balls to threaten a child's life just to get revenge on her parents. But you, you'd do it in a heartbeat. You're not even afraid of being caught. You'd probably go to jail for it, smiling, as long as you knew Cass and I were suffering more. I hate to break it to you, you sociopathic bitch, but Maggie not being Cass' isn't my fault. I just showed her the DNA report. You're the one who lied and broke the girl's heart."
Frankie took a breath. And that allowed Cecile dePoulignac to get a word in edgewise. Frankie listened, and while her face hardened in anger and her body shook with fury, all she said was, "Cass and I will never be together again. You have my word on it."
At the Bay City Police Station, Rachel pushed her way through the early morning throng of blue-clad cops going on and off shift, straggling perpetrators still being booked from the night before, and assorted sleep-deprived witnesses, victims, and family congregating in the tiny waiting area. She demanded to see Captain Burrell.
Her request was honored. Toni left her office to usher Rachel into a private corner of the station to talk.
"What is going on here?" Rachel attempted to keep her voice civil, knowing that in this day and age, the last thing anyone wanted to do was aggravate a police officer. Her heart, however, was hammering so loudly and so fiercely, it was all Rachel could do to control herself and keep from grabbing Toni to shake the answers out of her.
Toni read from the report in front of her. "Mr. Hutchins was brought in earlier this morning on charges of Assault and Battery as defined by Illinois State law. The victim also filed felony charges of Intimidation and "
"Who?" Rachel asked, "Who brought these charges? Who did my husband supposedly intimidate and assault?"
Before Toni could reply, a voice from behind Rachel announced, "Me."
Rachel knew that voice. She winced even before she turned around, hoping against hope that her ears were playing tricks on her.
Standing before Rachel was Carl's alleged victim, one side of her face in the process of swelling beneath a black and blue mark.
For Felicia, seeing Jenna in a hospital bed was in some ways more frightening than seeing her passed out the night before at the convent.
On the one hand, Felicia was thrilled that Jenna was finally getting the medical help she so obviously desperately needed. On the other, watching her daughter get threaded with a variety of needles and tubes, each connected to a different bag of dripping IVs, drove home just how sick she really was. This wasn't just some perfectly normal pregnancy twitch aggravated by their stressful surroundings and easily fixed with good pre-natal care. Jenna was in serious trouble.
She lay in bed, eyes only half open, drifting in and out of consciousness while clutching onto Dean's hand for dear life. Felicia was happy to see that, somewhere along the way, Dean's own injuries had been treated. His forearms and shins were freshly bandaged and disinfected, blood soaking through like pinpricks at the worst injury sites. But he appeared indifferent to the stinging pain.
"Hi, Mom," Jenna whispered sleepily, unable to open her eyes all the way due to the medication she'd been given. "Are you okay?"
"Am I okay?" Felicia snorted. "I'm fit as a fiddle. How do you feel?"
"I shouldn't wonder."
Jenna forced herself to meet Felicia's eyes, and her mouth stretched into a faint smile of such pure joy it made Felicia's heart constrict. "It's a girl."
Felicia looked at Dean, confused, but he nodded, beaming at Jenna. "They told us. When they were doing all the tests, they asked us if we wanted to know, and we said yes. It's a girl. Jenna and I are going to have a little girl."
Felicia clasped her hands to her chest. "Oh, Jenna... Oh, I'm so happy for you both." And then she remembered, face darkening. "Is she... Are you... Is everything okay?"
Jamie, who'd been standing quietly at the back of the room since he'd escorted Felicia in, not wanting to disturb the family reunion, now stepped forward and cleared his throat. "That's what we all need to talk about."
Dean, his voice almost menacing, already irrationally blaming Jamie for the inevitable bad news to come, preempted, "The guy doing the sonogram said the baby was alright."
"She is," Jamie agreed. "For now. Jenna is the one we're worried about."
Felicia moved to the side, taking Jenna's other hand, as if together, she and Dean could somehow protect her from Jamie's prognosis.
He told all three of them, "Jenna has a condition known as preeclampsia."
"In English," Dean snapped.
"Her blood pressure is very, very high. That's what caused the headaches, the nausea, the swelling in her arms and legs, and the abdominal pain. If she'd been getting regular check-ups, at this point "
"Kind of hard to do when you've been kidnapped," Dean barked. "It's not her fault."
"I'm not saying it is," Jamie reassured. "All I am saying is that, if she'd been getting regular check-ups, we might have caught the condition sooner and been able to treat it, or at least control it, with medication and bed rest."
"You're saying you can't fix it now? What does that mean? What kind of a doctor are you?"
Felicia shot Dean a look, pleading for him to calm down and let Jamie talk. But she also understood his frustration.
Jamie understood it, too. He didn't take offense and continued in a neutral, calm voice. "The only way to lower Jenna's blood pressure now is to deliver the baby right away. I would recommend doing it by C-section. She's too weak to handle an induction well at this point. We'll give her magnesium sulfate intravenously during the procedure to increase uterine blood flow and prevent any further seizures."
"But..." Now Jenna spoke up, every word a visible effort. "The baby... She's too little... If we deliver her now..."
"If we wait much longer," Jamie said. "It puts you at risk for placental abruption, severe hemorrhaging, even a stroke. You could die, Jenna."
"But the baby could die now. Right?" She looked desperately from one face to the next. "She's too tiny. If you deliver her now to save me, then she could die."
Jamie said, "We have drugs we can give you to speed up the maturation of her lungs, that will help."
"What about the rest? What are her chances?"
Jamie hesitated, then told Jenna honestly, "A baby born at twenty-four weeks gestation, like yours, has a 39% chance of survival."
"No." Jenna shook her head. "No. I won't."
It was Felicia who asked, "What if we wait a little bit? Do the odds change?"
"At twenty-five weeks, it's 50/50."
"There," Felicia told Jenna. "You see, that's much better."
"No," Jenna insisted. "Still not good enough."
"In Jenna's condition," Jamie warned. "I wouldn't advise even waiting the week. It would put her chances of survival at lower than the baby's."
Dean asked, "You've got specialists, right? People who take care of babies as tiny as ours all the time?"
"We have one of the best neonatal ICUs in the state. We'd have a pediatrician standing by as soon as your daughter is delivered."
Dean turned to Jenna. "You hear that? We're getting top-notch talent."
"No," she repeated. "I'm not hurting the baby to save myself."
"But listen to what Jamie said, honey," Felicia stroked Jenna's forehead. "If you don't have the surgery, you could bleed or have a stroke. That would be even worse for the baby, right, Jamie?"
He nodded. "Trying to save you both would be nearly impossible."
"Then don't save me. Save my baby."
"Jenna..." Dean attempted to reason with her.
Jamie said, "You need to discuss this. I'm going to step outside. You have my pager number. Call me if you have any questions. I'll be back in a little bit."
Though his actions were perfectly medically and ethically sounds, Jamie still felt like a bit of the coward, slinking out and leaving the life-and-death decision in someone else's hands. Didn't matter that it was the right thing to do, his guilt stemmed from Jamie's own relief at having the option of doing it.
Outside Jenna's room, Jamie closed his eyes and took a deep breath, only to hear, a moment later, the sound of Marley exclaiming, "There you are! I've been looking all over this place for you."
Jamie froze and wondered if he could continue his cowardly streak by keeping his lids shut and, like a toddler, pretending none of this was happening.
Unfortunately, that would be neither ethically sound nor the right thing to do.
Jamie was a big boy, and he had to face this head on. Marley had promised they would talk today. He felt pretty sure it wouldn't be about the weather or about a good night to get all the kids together again for bowling.
Jamie opened his eyes, going from wary to concerned as he took in Marley's expression.
She wasn't wearing the Cheshire grin of flirty ease from last night. Rather she looked as pale and shocked as if someone had died.
"What's wrong?" he asked, walking to meet her halfway down the hall even as his adrenaline withdrawal body groaned in protest. "Look, I know we need to talk about last night "
"This isn't about last night!" she cut him off and, opening the door herself, ushered Jamie into his office, closing the door pointedly behind them. She held out an envelope to him and briskly instructed, "Open it."
Jamie did as he was told, his eyes scanning the pages for only a few moments before it all suddenly became very clear.
Damn, damn, damn, how the hell did...
"Where did you get this?
"It doesn't matter. Is it true?"
Jamie thought fast. He'd always known there'd be a chance this would return to haunt him, no matter how carefully he'd covered his tracks. The task now was to come up with an explanation Marley could believe. And one that would keep her from asking follow-up questions.
"Jamie," she said, suddenly closer, looking up at him expectantly and deliberately. "Talk to me. Tell me the truth. Were you in rehab while you were in San Francisco?"
Jamie looked down at Marley, and slowly nodded.
"They put me in my old cell," Carl purred. "Who knew our dear Bay City PD were so sentimental?"
"I'm glad you're amused by all this." Rachel spoke to her husband through the bars, a guard hovering less than two feet behind her.
Sitting on a hard bench pressed against the wall, dressed in standard issued prisoner gray, Carl nevertheless managed to quote, "At the sight of what goes on in the world, the most misanthropic of men must end by being amused." Then identified the speaker, "Nicolas Chamfort."
"Did his wife need to bail him out of an assault charge?"
"I suspect not. She died after six months of marriage."
"Because she only got pithy epigrams when what she needed were straight answers?"
"History is mute on the subject."
"Damn it, Carl, stop being so erudite and just tell me what happened." Rachel's quote had an originator, too. "Cass Winthrop."
Carl smiled bitterly and stood up, stretching. He took his time strolling over to the bars and rested his elbows on them, hands reaching through to take Rachel's. He confessed, "I went to see Donna."
"I'd grown weary of the constant accusations alleging a relationship between myself and Gloria Norris. I thought if anyone could put an end to it, it would be Donna. She is the only person currently available who ever saw us together. She knows full well nothing happened between us."
"What did Donna say?"
"Like the best of politicians she claimed she could neither confirm nor deny the charges. Donna contended that while she wasn't personally aware of a relationship between Gloria and myself, it could very well have happened nonetheless."
"So you, what, tried to beat her into remembering things your way?"
"Rachel!" Carl stepped back, either genuinely shocked or doing a BAFTA worthy impression of it. "The only women I've ever physically harmed were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time."
A list of females who might beg to differ flashed through Rachel's mind, her own daughter among them, but Rachel kept her tongue.
"And besides," Carl added. "That's all in my past."
"I saw Donna's face."
"As did I. Unfortunately it was after I'd already been read my Miranda rights."
"You didn't hit her?"
"I did not. When I left Donna's estate, she was her usual condescending, irritating, galling self. But she was unharmed. I was on my way home when one of Bay City's finest flagged me down and informed me of the pending charges. I arrived at the station in time to see Donna and her sham of an injury swearing out a complaint against me."
"Why would she do something like that?"
"You are in a better position to ask her that than I am."
"Carl. Do you swear... "
"On Elizabeth and Cory's lives." Carl's gaze locked onto Rachel's and refused to let go.
She held her ground for a beat. She peered into her husband's eyes as if hoping for a view into his soul. No matter how hard Rachel pushed, he refused to back down. He wasn't afraid and he had nothing to hide. Not this time.
Rachel gave a curt nod. "I'll talk to Donna."
Jamie began, "When I first arrived in San Francisco, everything was fine. A new city, a new hospital, making a new life for myself. It was...freeing."
"Sounds like it could have been lonely too," Marley suggested from her seat on the couch.
Jamie, leaning against his desk, conceded with a nod. "A little. Which was probably why I dove into my work. There were always patients who needed tending or families who needed someone to talk to. It was familiar, reassuring territory for me."
"Being the fixer," Marley nodded.
"Something like that. Of course, unless you're God, you can't fix everything." He trailed off, suddenly somewhere else, somewhere outside the room, his face betraying a struggle of emotions. "There was a woman brought in one night...she, uh...she was beaten up pretty badly. Her face and body were nothing but bruises and contusions, cuts and...burns. It took surgeons hours to repair the damage, and even then it took days for her to wake up. She'd been hit so many times, we weren't sure she was going to make it. But she did, she woke up and she told us what the rape kit had told us."
"Oh my God," Marley murmured, her stomach churning as she, even after all these years, instinctively and viscerally reacted to the word. "She'd been raped, too?"
"Apparently the bastard kept her in her own apartment for two days. After he was done, he just left her there to die. If her next door neighbor hadn't come back from vacation early to hear her calling for help..." Jamie caught himself, his voice tight, his body rigid, eyes on the floor, taking a slow breath before he continued. "The police searched for weeks, but they couldn't find the guy. Greta...that was her name, stayed in the hospital for weeks. She needed several more surgeries to repair what was done. I kept in contact with her, saw her when she would come in for consultations or after her therapy sessions."
"You became close," Marley concluded, causing Jamie's eyes to focus on her.
"Close but not....we were friends," he settled carefully. "I thought...Greta seemed so...hopeful and...she killed herself. A week after her last surgery, she killed herself."
"Oh, Jamie," Marley sighed, everything slowly clicking together. "I'm so sorry."
"I didn't see it coming. Maybe I didn't want to see it coming. Maybe I wanted to believe that she would heal and not let what happened to her define her or her life. Like you did. After Jake...."
"Is that when it began?" Marley asked, now at his side, his hand in hers. "The drinking?"
"And meds," he admitted. "I just wanted to be numb. I didn't want to feel anything. I just wanted to forget."
"Why didn't you call anyone? Rachel or Amanda? You shouldn't have gone through this alone."
"I wasn't exactly in the best frame of mind. I was so angry and frustrated. Mom or Amanda wouldn't have been able to do much for me."
"How did you end up in rehab?"
"It was that or jail," he said simply. "I was caught stealing meds from the lock box. My colleagues did what a lot of colleagues do and quietly arranged for me to take what they referred to officially as a sabbatical. So I could get myself together... Your investigator must be pretty good," Jamie picked up the report from his desk. "I didn't check in under my real name."
"Gary Sinclair. He's very thorough."
"Gary. Isn't it funny how every time you turn around in Bay City, you bump into a relative? Or an ex-relative? Why were you doing a background check on me, Marley?"
"I was trying to get something on Grant that we could use in the custody case. Gary discovered that Grant had his own people doing some background checks so he - "
"Grant knows about this?"
"No," she quickly assured him. "His people apparently are lemmings. Gary is pretty sure he can keep this buried. No one else - especially Grant - will find out. I promise."
"Thanks," Jamie said with a small smile. "I know this is a shock, Marley, and I'm sorry I kept it from you. I just...by the time I came back to Bay City for Steven and Kirkland, I'd been clean and sober for three years. I've stayed that way since. If I ever thought I was breaking down again, I would've come to you. I would've made sure that Steven and Kirkland were taken care of."
"I know you'd never do anything to hurt the boys. I just wish..."
"That you'd have trusted me."
"I do trust you. It just all happened so long ago... I was a different person then. I have Steven and Kirkland now."
"And me. Please don't ever forget that." Marley forced herself to sound upbeat as she reminded, "You're not getting away from me that easily. We still have another talk on the table, remember? About last night."
"Absolutely," he swore. "But... later? Rounds started ten minutes ago. I've got to run."
"Later," she agreed, her smile fading once Jamie left, closing the door after him, and Marley was left alone to grapple with what she'd just heard. And how it could affect their lives.
Lila was in the Cory greenhouse when the second-to-last person she expected to see showed up, followed by a sheepish looking third-to-last person she expected to see.
Charlie stood at the door, Cass shuffling awkwardly behind her. He cleared his throat into his fist and explained, "Charlie wanted to come talk to you. We called Jasmine and she told us you were here."
Lila nodded. "Hello, Charlie. Is that a new outfit you've got on?"
The blue denim shorts and white T-shirt caught Lila's attention because they were neither pink, orange, nor a combination of the two.
"I thought I'd try something different," Charlie said.
"Well, they're real flattering."
Cass said, "As long as I'm here, maybe Jasmine and I should talk, too."
"She's at the stables," Lila said.
"I'll see if I can find her." Cass half-turned, then, either out of politeness or a genuine need to know, if only to assuage his residual guilt, asked, "How are you, Lila?"
"Oh, surviving. I'm good at that."
"I'm glad. If you ever need anything "
"I'll get it myself, thank you."
That seemed to put Cass at a loss for words. He opened his mouth, then thought better of it. Cass nodded in Lila's direction and told Charlie, "I'll be waiting in the car. Take as long as you like."
"Tell Jazz I'm going to come see her, too. She's still my sister. Not our fault adults are lame."
"No," Cass agreed. "It's not your fault at all."
As he left, Charlie told Lila, "He feels bad."
"I know. Funny part is, I'm not enjoying it nearly as much as I expected to."
"Me neither," Charlie admitted. Then clarified, "You moving out. I thought I'd be, you know, more psyched about it."
"At least tell me you're happy about your Mama being back."
"I am. But, see, the thing is, I've known about her being back for a long time. So it's not like Dad. It's not new to me."
"How did that happen?" Lila wondered, taking a seat on a stone bench and leading Charlie next to her. "Frankie just showing up out of the blue? Were you scared? How did you know she was the real thing?"
"I just... " Charlie struggled to find the right words, then gave up. "I just knew. She touched my face, and it's like I remembered. I know that sounds stupid. I was so little, I couldn't have really remembered her."
"No," Lila said. "It doesn't sound stupid at all. My mama died when I was little, too. I used to have dreams about her coming back. And I was certain I'd know her anywhere, no matter what."
"She said it's because I was like her. I could feel things."
"Ah, yes, Frankie and her feelings. You'd think being so in touch with the universe and all, it wouldn't have taken her ten years to remember her little girl. Or her little girl's daddy."
"They did horrible things to her at that hospital," Charlie said. "She tries to hide them, but I've seen it. She's got burns on her arms and scratches from too many needles. They tried to make her forget us. But I guess she loved us too much for it to work forever."
"It must have been hard for you, keeping a secret so big from your Daddy."
"It was. But Mom explained about how it was when she and Dad were married the first time, and Kathleen, that's her name, right? Kathleen?"
Lila confirmed, "Kathleen McKinnon. Undead Redheaded Wife 1.0."
"How it was when Kathleen was the one who popped up out of nowhere. Mom said she didn't want to bring that much pain into our lives. We'd have kept our secret forever, if Jasmine hadn't... and then Dad... I'm going to say something really awful now, okay, Lila? Promise you won't tell anybody?"
"I promise. I'm good at keeping secrets."
"I wished Mom'd stayed a secret. I wish she was just mine, and everything else stayed the same. You and me and Dad and Jazz. I was used it. It was normal. Now everything is mixed up. The house feels... like something's missing. And this morning, she and Dad were fighting already. I was afraid this would happen. What if they end up fighting so much that she leaves again?"
"Your mama wouldn't leave you again. Look how much she went through to get you back."
"But the way everything was, I had them both. I didn't have to choose. What if now they make me pick which one I like better?"
"Then they're idiots," Lila said. "And they don't deserve you."
Charlie laughed. "Since when do you think I'm so great?"
"Since when do you trust me with your secrets?"
Charlie sighed. "Everything really is mixed up, isn't it?"
"It'll straighten out," Lila reassured. "And then all the changes will start feeling normal again. Just give it some time."
"Dad said it was your choice to leave. He didn't tell you to. Is that true?"
"Do you hate him?"
"Do you hate my mom?"
"No... Well, maybe a twinge here and there. You know, Charlie, I don't pretend to talk to the universe, like your mother does. Or maybe it just doesn't talk back to me. But, I think maybe there's something to that nonsense about auras or spirits or heebie-jeebies. The whole time I was with your Daddy, I felt like your mama was there, too. And maybe she was. Maybe we all knew, somehow, that she was still alive. And she was on her way back."
"I never told anybody this, but at your wedding, I thought I could feel her there, next to me."
Lila ducked her head and confided, "I never told anybody this either. But I felt her there, too."
They talked for another twenty minutes. And before Charlie left to go find Jasmine, she gave Lila a hug. It had been a long time since Charlie had done that.
Afterward, Lila stayed in the greenhouse, pretending to marvel at nature's cornucopia but in reality, just trying to process it all. She wanted to cry and, at the same time, she wanted to believe that everything was going to be alright. For all of them.
The one thing she didn't want to do was come face-to-face with the very last person she expected to see.
Yet, there she was. And Lila had no choice but to sigh, "Hello, Frankie."
Donna was in the process of finalizing her official statement when Rachel walked out of the cell-block and back into the bull-pen, looking for her.
Much to Rachel's shock, Matt had apparently found Carl's accuser first.
He was standing by Donna's side, one arm resting solicitously around her waist, the epitome of support. And love.
After the kind of night and previous day and previous night and previous day and so on back to Easter, that Rachel had just endured, she didn't have the emotional fortitude for social pleasantries. The first words out of her mouth were, "What the Hell, Matthew?"
The pair whipped around to face her. Donna hurriedly signed the complaint she'd been proof-reading and returned it to the officer on duty. As if the sight of Rachel might have made her change her mind.
"Again?" Rachel demanded of her son, indicating Donna.
"Yes," he said simply, unbowed.
Donna attempted to mediate, "It isn't... We're not... I didn't ask him to come."
Matt concurred. "I heard about Carl's arrest on the radio. I thought Donna could use some support."
"Oh, she will," Rachel promised. "When I'm done with her."
Rounds completed, Jamie still didn't go back to his office on the chance that Marley had waited around to talk more about last night's kiss, or about the findings of her dangerously competent private investigator.
Hell, given the option, Jamie would have preferred to talk about their kiss, if it meant he could avoid talking about rehab or Greta or how he'd plunged to such a lowly state as to be forced to sequester himself away under an assumed name.
Especially since he hadn't told Marley the whole truth.
Greta and her tragic end had most definitely played a part in Jamie succumbing to his old addiction. But she had merely been the catalyst for his descent.
The real reason behind what prompted Jamie take a drug cocktail chased with a bottle of vodka in a deliberate bid to end his life a detail which, thankfully, had not been included in Marley's PI's report - was something he hoped to take to his grave. For his sake, and for his sons'.
If the truth ever got out, Jamie couldn't imagine there was a judge on Earth who would deem him a fit father.
No matter how much Felicia may have wanted to offer an opinion in Jenna and Dean's deliberation over the options Jamie presented them, she knew it wasn't her place. She simply told them she'd be outside if they needed her, and quietly slipped out to the hall.
There, she checked her cell-phone messages, gasping with delight when she heard the one from Lorna, announcing that she'd landed in Bay City and was waiting for Felicia in the hospital chapel. Lorna explained that the nurses had refused to let her into the Examining Area, so she figured a quick prayer wouldn't hurt.
Felicia swept through the hospital, descending on her daughter in the chapel and smothering her with hugs.
Lorna hugged her mother back, then asked, "How's Jenna?"
Felicia filled Lorna in, taking her hand and leading her to sit in the front pew, right next to the flickering candles.
"What are they going to do?" Lorna wanted to know.
Felicia shook her head and shrugged. "They were still trying to decide when I left."
"I want to go see her, but... "
"Maybe in a little bit."
Lorna nodded, understandingly. She linked her fingers in her lap and gazed down at them, deep in thought.
For a moment, it looked like she was getting ready to say something, but then Felicia, looking away and missing the subtle signal, interrupted, "Jenna is so happy it's a girl. She and Dean are going to name her after Gloria, and after Dean's mother. Gloria Ann. But they're going to call her Lori Ann, isn't that beautiful? It just flows."
"It's nice," Lorna agreed. "You're unoffended they're not naming her after you?"
"Oh, goodness, goodness, no. Gloria Ann, it's perfect. A wonderful way to remember both the mothers who are gone. I'm still here. And, believe me, I plan to be for a good, long time. I'm happy being Grandma Felicia. Nana Felicia? Granny? Grandmama? Well, I'm still working on that." Felicia laughed in delightful anticipation at any of those monikers. "But, the thing is, Jenna told me that if the baby was a boy, they were going to name him Lucas."
"Lucas?" Lorna's head jerked up, as if struck by a live wire.
"Yes," Felicia confessed. "So although I adore the idea of a little girl to dress up and have tea-parties with and take her out and show her off.... I was kind of hoping it would be a boy. Our little Lucas. It would be like having a part of him back again, don't you think?"
Lorna could barely bob her head in reply. She asked her mother, "Do you ever think about what it could have been like, if he hadn't... If he were still here?"
"Only every minute of every day. I dreamt of having a family with Luke from the time I was fifteen years old. And when it finally happened, so many years after I intended it to, it was for such a short time. And you... you never really got to know him at all."
"I feel like I have. Through you and through Jenna."
"He would have been the most adoring, doting father. He'd do anything for his girls. And I mean anything. Risking his life? Trivial. He'd have given his life to keep you safe."
"What about you?" Lorna wondered.
"What do you mean?"
"How far would you go to keep Jenna and I safe?"
"What a question! If I could trade my life for Jenna's or little Lori Ann's right now, I'd do it in an instant. An instant, just say the word."
"Would you betray somebody that you loved?"
Felicia shook her head, baffled. "Where is this coming from?"
Lorna shrugged. "I don't know. I guess, with Jenna and Dean having to make such a horrible, awful choice, it got me thinking about how far any parent would go to protect their child."
"As far as they needed to, and then further still, no question."
Lorna said, "Could you excuse me a minute? I've got to make a call. I left work in a pretty big lurch. There are a few things I need to follow up on."
She left the hospital and crossed the length of the parking lot before Lorna felt secluded enough to phone Lucas and, with her palm cupped over the mouthpiece, tell him, "Unless Mom is playing things really, really close to the vest, I don't think Rachel and Carl have told her about you, yet."
On the other end of the connection, Lucas made a noise that might have been approval. Or it might have been regret.
"But this can't go on forever," Lorna pointed out. "Eventually "
"How is Jenna?" Lucas interrupted.
"Not good. Basically, if they don't deliver the baby right away, she risks having a stroke, or worse. But if they deliver the baby now, it's got a less than fifty percent chance of surviving."
The words Lucas uttered then were unmistakably, very colorfully frustrated. And known only to those who'd spent too much of their lives doing whatever they had to in order to survive on the streets. Like Lucas. And like his daughter.
"The cat is out of the bag. We're going to have to tell Mom eventually. And if we tell her about you, we're going to have to tell her about "
"Give me a couple of days. I'll think of something."
"We might not have a couple of days. Who knows when Rachel and Carl might decide to spill their guts? Rachel, I bet, is keeping quiet because of what's going on with Jenna, and not wanting to overwhelm Mom. But you know Carl, he'll do it just out of spite."
"I do know Carl," Lucas agreed grimly.
His tone reminded Lorna of the question that had been nagging at her ever since she and Felicia talked about parents and the sacrifices they made for their children.
"Lucas," she began gingerly, then pressed ahead, knowing that if she slowed down even for a moment, she'd lose her nerve. "You told me this whole thing started because you had to protect the three of us from Carl."
"That's right. You, better than anyone, know what would have happened otherwise."
"How far," Lorna swallowed hard, her throat dry. "How far are you willing to go to keep Carl out of our lives?"
"What do you mean? You know how far I've gone. You know what I've been forced to do because of that man."
"Would you go so far as... " It was now or never. Lorna didn't want to know. But she had to. "So far as having Felica, Jenna and Dean kidnapped?"
Rachel steeled her voice to tell Donna, "Carl swears he never laid a finger on you."
"And Carl Hutchins' word is sacrosanct, of course." Donna scoffed.
"I believe him. About this."
"Open your eyes, Rachel. Don't forget, I was married to the man, too. As a matter of fact, I've known him longer than anyone else in Bay City. You think I'm not familiar with his heartfelt act? The one where he looks you oh, so deeply in the eyes, and refuses to glance away, no matter how hard you try to rattle him? That's not sincerity. That's just another form his bullying."
Her depiction clearly hit home for Rachel, who felt her conviction wavering just a touch. Nevertheless, she pressed on, "What possible reason does Carl have for assaulting you?"
"Because I refused to go along with his fiction that he and Gloria Norris were just passing acquaintances."
"Do you know for a fact that they weren't?"
"I do." Donna squared her shoulders, tilted her chin upwards and punctuated her assertion with a curt nod. Matt squeezed her hand supportively, and she offered him a grateful smile. "It's why I left Carl. Because of him and Gloria. Honestly, I thought men of his alleged breeding at least knew enough not to... spit... where they ate."
Rachel wasn't in the mood for euphemisms. "That's not what you told Cass and Lila when they came to ask you about it."
Donna indicated her battered face. "And now you see why! I knew Carl would go absolutely mad if his secret ever got out. I was trying to protect myself and my family."
"So why come clean now?"
"Because enough is enough. When I heard what he'd done to Felicia and Jenna... "
"You're sure it was him?"
"Who else could it be? Obviously, Jenna was getting close to figuring out her parentage..."
"Carl is Jenna's father?" Rachel's voice didn't betray a hint of emotion.
The detachment rattled Donna and made her own vehemence waver. "I... Yes. That was my understanding all these years."
"So let me get this straight," Rachel said. "After every crime that Carl has already either confessed to or been convicted of, after unreservedly admitting to murder and kidnapping and blackmail and counterfeiting, the one transgression he decided the world absolutely, positively could never know about was an illegitimate child? And not even his first one, at that?"
"It makes perfect sense."
"Enlighten me," Rachel snapped.
"I'm sorry," Donna said. "I'd have thought it was obvious. Carl did it because of you."
"Because of me," Rachel repeated slowly.
"You'd already forgiven him for all those other crimes. Or, well, at least agreed to believe he'd reformed. But counterfeiting, blackmail, even kidnapping... That's all so impersonal. They're just words. An affair with a woman who worked for his wife, not to mention terrorizing her so badly afterwards that she had to stash her own child in a convent and only see her a few times a year just to make sure that she'd be safe from Carl... That's visceral. That's real. That's the kind of crime marriages break up over. No matter how long ago the transgression took place."
There was some sense to Donna's words. An internal logic that Rachel could follow, if not accept... immediately.
She needed time to process it all. And she needed to get away from Donna. She especially needed to, under the circumstances, get away from the sight of Donna and Matt.
So, without another word, Rachel simply turned on her heel and left the police station. She walked in a daze down the street to her car.
It was probably on account of her daze that it took Rachel a moment to register that, when she opened the driver's side door, a familiar face was sitting on the passenger side and, after the initial shock had worn off, making Rachel an offer.
"I can get you the whole truth about your husband. For a price."
Even though Jamie hadn't given them a hard deadline for making a decision, as far as Dean was concerned, every second Jenna spent at risk for a massive hemorrhage or a deadly stroke, was one second too many.
Unfortunately, as far as Jenna was concerned, every second her baby spent gestating peacefully inside of her and not fighting for its life with a tube down her throat, another in her stomach and a tangle of IVs piercing veins smaller than the needles that stabbed them, was a second well spent.
Jenna battled fatigue, not to mention her own pain and fear to tell Dean, "Do you know why I wanted us to have a baby so badly?"
Dean suspected that like with so many questions posed by women, this one didn't have a right answer, and so he just shrugged, noncommittal.
Jenna said, "I wanted a baby because I love you so much."
"I love you, too," Dean swore. "That's why I think you should have the C-section like Jamie recommended. It's what's best for you."
"It's not what's best for Lori Ann. Dean, listen, please. Do you remember the song you wrote for me when we were first together?"
"A Song for Jenna. Yeah, sure, I remember. Of course."
"Well, that song was your way of showing how much you love me. This baby is mine."
"Jenna, I don't need... "
"I know you don't." She tapped her chest with her palm. "I do. I can't write music like you. The only thing I can create that would be this permanent proof of you and me and who we were and how much we meant to each other, is a baby. Our baby. You know how much you love me, and how much I love you? Well, put it together, double it, and that's how much I love our Lori Ann. Because she's a part of both of us. She is us. You can't ask me to do anything that would put her in danger."
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