Dean may not have known the meaning of OR emergency medical terms like "vent setting pressure," "erythromycin" and "endo-tracheal," but "no heartbeat" sure sounded like a no-brainer to him. What else could it possibly mean?
He knew he should be looking at the baby, it's what he'd been sent over to do, after all. But at the pediatrician's prognosis, Dean instinctively glanced over his shoulder at Jenna, still lying on the operating table. She was being sewn up but, even so, she kept craning her neck, hoping to catch a glimpse of their daughter.
Would Dean have to be the one to break it to her? It would probably be better coming from him, but how exactly was he supposed to do it? Should he tell Jenna now, get it over with, quench any false hopes before they grew bigger? Or should he give her a few minutes of being a mom? Let Jenna plan out Lori Ann's entire future, at least let her live in that way, if only for a minute, if only in her mother's dreams?
Dean took a step toward his wife, panicked to find that his mind had gone completely blank, incapable of summoning up any word, much less a comforting one, when he heard the doctor exclaim, "Ah, good baby! Very good baby! You gave us a scare there, didn't you, you pretty girl? But you're a good baby, yes you are, keep taking those breaths, sweetheart, that's right, that's good, that's a good baby."
"She's..." Dean glanced down, somewhat shocked after the doctor's cheerful chatter to note that Lori Ann still looked exactly the same to him as she had a moment earlier. He'd been expecting a miracle, but nothing seemed to have changed. "She's... alive?"
"That she is," Jamie beamed. "She's working with us." He told Dean, "We're going to take her up to the Neonatal ICU now. Give us about twenty minutes to get her settled in, then you can come and visit. Jenna's going to be in recovery for a bit, too, we still want to monitor her blood pressure, she's not completely out of the woods yet, but its looking good. You stay with her, then come on up when you're ready. Congratulations, Dean," Jamie slapped him heartily on the shoulder. "You're a Daddy."
"You think I had Felicia, Jenna and Dean kidnapped?" Donna repeated Matt's query, running a gamut of emotions from incredulous to insulted to defensive between the first word and the last.
"I didn't say I thought you did it," he backtracked awkwardly. "I just asked... "
"Whether or not I had."
"Yeah..." Matt finished lamely.
"To what end? What would I have had to gain from such an act?"
"You just said... you just told me you'd do anything to keep your secret about Jenna from coming out."
"But it was the kidnapping that prompted Carl's potential discovery, not the other way around. Be logical, Matthew."
"I'm trying to be," he defended, racing ahead in his mind, attempting to lay out all the pieces of the story Donna had just told him, in addition to what he'd picked up from his mother about Carl, in order to pluck out the thread capable of backing up his admittedly hastily blurted accusation.
Donna beat him to punch, pointing out, "If Felicia, Jenna and Dean had never been kidnapped, Cass and Lila wouldn't have come to Carl about being listed on Jenna's school records in the first place, they never would have accused him of being her father, he never would have gone off in search of the truth and we wouldn't be having this conversation. What motive could I have possibly had for setting any of this into motion?"
"I don't know," Matt admitted. "It's just... you said you were desperate."
"I was. I am. I'm begging you, Matthew, keep what I've just told you to yourself. No good can come of airing my dirty laundry."
Matt said, "Remember when it was Kirkland we were talking about? Whether or not Kirk should get to know his biological father? Well, I know what it's like to suddenly find out you're not who you thought you were. And you know what it's like to be the parent who eventually has to admit they've been lying for years. Don't you think Jenna deserves to know the truth about where she came from?"
"No one deserves to know that they were unwanted," Donna said, "My father made it very clear while I was growing up that I was nothing but a crushing disappointment to him. Anything I told Jenna would be even worse than that."
"You don't have to tell her what you told me. You can... massage... the truth a little. Tell her just a part of it, tell her you did it to protect her and yourself from Carl. She'll understand that. After all, it's exactly what Gloria did, too. Jenna will consider herself lucky, having two mothers who loved her so much."
"I'm afraid... She won't believe me. She'll see through me. She'll... I can't. I won't. Matthew, please, if you care for me, if you ever cared for me... please, just heed my wishes. Let me have my secret."
Matt hesitated. He knew right from wrong. He knew what he'd said about Kirkland and Grant. He still believed it, too. But he also knew Donna. He knew how he felt about Donna. He knew the effect she had on him.
Finally, Matt said, "Alright. But on one condition."
Jamie had barely stepped into the waiting room before Lorna, Rachel and Amanda were all on their feet, clustering around him, wanting to hear the news.
"They're both okay." Jamie watched as joy and relief flooded all three faces. He'd wanted to give them that update first, before rushing to caution, "Jenna and Lori Ann are both stable for now, but neither one is out of the woods yet. The baby is very, very small. We have to help her breathe and eat and regulate her body temperature. There is still a lot that can go wrong, she still has a very, very long road ahead of her. But she's alive and she's fighting. That's very important."
"What about Jenna?" Lorna asked. "I thought you said as soon as the baby was delivered, she'd be fine."
"That's the general idea with preeclampsia," Jamie agreed. "But when I left, Jenna's blood pressure was climbing higher than I'd have liked. Probably due to the stress of the surgery. She's being monitored, but we could still use," he had to look over at Lorna for that one, "A bit of luck."
Lorna smiled back.
Rachel told her son, "Thank you, Jamie. I know Felicia felt much better having you in the operating room. But you look exhausted. Go home, get some rest."
"That sounds like a terrific idea."
He was turning to leave when Amanda called out, "Jamie!"
He turned around again, making a full circle.
"I... Jamie, we're having a family dinner tonight. I wanted to introduce everyone to a... to my... friend, Kevin."
"Friend, huh?" Despite the depth of his fatigue, Jamie couldn't help slipping into Big Brother mode, gently chiding Amanda, "Sounds interesting."
"You don't know the half of it," Rachel crossed her arms. "Tell him, Amanda."
"Tell me what?"
"I... He... My friend... His name is Kevin Fowler."
Jamie blamed his sleep-deprived state for the fact that it took him even a moment to realize, "Grant's attorney, Kevin Fowler?"
"Yes," Amanda tried to sound casual. Amanda failed.
"Are you kidding me?"
"No. Jamie, he's a great guy. It's... Grant's case is just business. He can separate the two. I thought if everybody met him, you could see "
"No, thanks," Jamie snapped. "I'm busy."
"Oh, come on. Don't be like that. You've just gotten out of surgery, what could you possibly have "
"Actually," Lorna interrupted. "Jamie is telling the truth. He already has plans for tonight. With me. We ran into each other before Jenna's operation and I offered to take him to dinner afterwards, to thank him. And to celebrate. I figured if we thought positive, everything would turn out for the best. And it has."
Amanda looked from Jamie to Lorna and back again, "Couldn't you reschedule? I really want you and Kevin to get everything out into the open."
Jamie looked at Lorna. "No," he said. "I can't. It would be bad luck."
"Yes," Cass said.
"Yes," he repeated.
"Yes," he reiterated.
"Stop!" Frankie implored.
She was laughing. Was she laughing? Maybe she was crying. She was both. She was neither. She couldn't tell. She was out of her mind. No, finally she was perfectly sane.
"You promise to do anything I say?" Frankie reminded him, deadly serious. "No questions asked?"
"If it means getting you back, then yes. Yes. Yes."
"Alright." Frankie laid out her conditions. "Then here's what you need to do. Right now, today, you have to go get Charlie, pack a bag, and leave with me."
"No problem. Where?"
"I don't know yet."
"Sounds exciting. Vintage Frankie."
"And then you have to never come back to Bay City."
That last one threw him for a loop. "What? Never?"
"Never. We have to disappear. You have to forget everything that you have here. Your business, your friends, Felicia... We won't be able to keep in touch with Morgan or Stacey. And you can't tell anyone that you're leaving."
"Frankie," Cass stripped off the Santa suit, realizing that a conversation this serious didn't need props. "Frankie, is somebody after you?"
"You promised you wouldn't ask any questions."
"Then the deal is off."
"Someone is after you. That's what all this is about. Finally, hallelujah, it's all starting to make some sense."
"You know, Winthrop, a girl could have a perfectly good reason for wanting to stay away from you other than she's being threatened."
"I don't feel like it right now."
"Frankie, please, tell me what's going on. If you're in trouble, I can help. Hell, I will help you, there's no question about it. We're a team, we can fight this together."
"No," Frankie said. "I made you a deal. Take it or leave it. No questions and I'm yours forever. Start digging, and I'm gone."
"You're not being fair."
"I'm doing what's best for all of us."
"You mean you're making the decisions for all of us. Again. I thought we'd broken you of this habit, Mary Frances."
"Horses are broken, Winthrop. Toys are broken. Windows. Not people. I intend to protect you and Charlie to the ends of the Earth, whether you like it or not."
"I don't like it."
"That's fine. But the choice is still yours. If you want to be with me, it's going to be away from Bay City, away from anyone who ever knew us, and away from anyone who could ever find us. What'll it be, Cass? What will it be?"
Kevin brought flowers for Rachel and Amanda, and a 1000 piece puzzle for Cory and Elizabeth, which promptly kept them quietly occupied for the rest of the night. He bid a polite good-evening to Lila and Jasmine, who were headed out of the house for some mother-daughter bonding just as he was coming in.
The gentleman had lovely manners, Rachel had to give him that, if not particularly choice taste in clients.
When she mentioned as much to him over dinner, Kevin reminded, "Attorneys are obliged to provide their services to everyone, it's what keeps the judicial system balanced."
"At $500 dollars an hour, I didn't realize you were a Public Defender."
Kevin smiled, "Guilty rich people deserve a defense, too."
"So you admit Grant is guilty?"
"Of loving his son, yes." Kevin deftly leaned back in his chair, allowing the table to be cleared of the soup course. "Delightful vichyssoise, Mrs. Hutchins. Perfect for a warm evening like this one."
"I'm sorry, Mr. Fowler," Rachel said. "While I do realize that social convention requires we discuss nothing more profound than the weather, I'm sure you'll understand why I currently feel the need to delve into a few slightly weightier topics."
"Mom!" Amanda hissed. "Kevin's our guest."
"That's alright," he reassured, patting Amanda's hand above the table, rather than her leg below it. Not that Rachel hadn't noticed it there earlier, but at least Kevin had the grace to fake chastity in her presence. Like she'd thought before: Nothing wrong with his manners.
Kevin noted, "It's what I came here for, after all."
"I love my grandson very much," Rachel said. "My grandson, Kirkland."
"He's lucky to have you. Most children who lose their parents at a young age aren't fortunate enough to end up with such a caring foster family."
"And yet you think it's in Kirkland's best interest to be taken away from his loving family and returned to a father who was perfectly content to fake being dead for a decade."
"There were extenuating circumstances. We plan to address all of that in court."
"While you're seeing my daughter."
"Well, not exactly at the same time. I draw very strict boundaries between business and pleasure."
"I've seen no evidence of that."
"My relationship with Amanda has no bearing on Kirkland's case. How do you possibly feel that it could?"
"You could use Amanda for information about our family. Information you could then turn against us."
"Oh, I think Amanda is much too smart to let me do something like that."
"Amanda is smart," Rachel said. "But she is also very trusting, especially with people she cares about."
"Mom!" This time, Amanda practically barked. "I'm in the room. Stop talking about me in the third person."
"I just hope you're listening."
"And I hope you remember that I'm not ten years old. I'm a grown woman. I can make my own decisions. I don't need your approval."
"Then why bring Mr. Fowler here tonight? If you don't care what I think, why put him on display like this?"
"Because," Kevin said smoothly. "Your daughter is happy. And she wanted you to see that."
Rachel was spared having to reply by the ringing of the doorbell. She stood up to answer it, but was beaten to the punch by Cory and Elizabeth. They arrived in the dining room a few minutes later accompanied by Spencer Harrison and... Alice Frame?
The juxtaposition of Grant's father along with Jamie's former stepmother discombobulated Rachel to such an extent that all she could do was ask Spencer, "What are you doing here? You're intruding. We're having a family dinner."
"I know," Spencer grinned. He didn't merely look like the cat who'd swallowed the canary. He looked like he'd dined on an entire aviary. "I brought a member of the family to join you. Mr. Fowler, I presume you know Mrs. Frame."
Kevin rose slowly from his chair. He buttoned his sports-jacket. He cleared his throat. He said, "Hello, Grandma."
The hospital cafeteria would not have been Lorna's first choice of locations at which to treat Jamie to a thank-you dinner. In fact, she'd suggested several other options: The Harbor Club, Pandora's, even Carlino's if Jamie was more in the mood for down-home and casual. But, despite being off-duty, he'd insisted on sticking close to the hospital in case anything came up with Jenna or the baby and Lorna, Dean and Felicia needed his help deciphering the often unintelligible language of harried doctors and surgeons.
"Do I know how to treat a man or what?" Lorna smiled as Jamie pushed aside his empty plate of meat-and-potato... something, and attempted to crumble a rigid square of chocolate cake with a plastic fork.
"You spoil me. This is the first time I've gotten to eat sitting down in I don't remember how long."
"You deserve more than lukewarm beef stew "
"Actually, now that I've eaten it, I think maybe it was lasagna."
"After everything you did for Jenna and Lori Ann."
"I'm afraid I didn't do very much except stand around trying to look like I knew what I was doing."
"You kept us all in the loop. You didn't put up that blue wall of silence - "
"I think that's the police. Doctors are more of a sickening green wall."
"Whichever one it is, you explained everything, you didn't treat us like idiots or worse, keep us in the dark. Jenna and Dean really appreciated having you in the operating room to keep an eye on things. They trust you. And that made everything easier. So eat your thank-you cake."
Jamie popped a bite into his mouth, chewed and, mouth full, lips closed, garbled, "You're welcome."
"Now," Lorna leaned forward with an eager grin. "Dish on why you'd rather eat bad hospital food with me, instead of a five course meal, at least, with your sister and her new boyfriend."
Jamie coughed at the sudden shift in topic.
"It wouldn't interest you," he choked, going for his cup of coffee, which Lorna deftly slid out of his reach.
"Try me." Lorna laughingly yielded the cup to Jamie. "Come on, I need some good gossip to distract me from everything here."
Jamie cleared his throat, sighed, and laid out, "Amanda's new boyfriend is Grant's lawyer. Grant is not only alive, but back in town, and suing me for custody of Kirkland."
"Whoa." Lorna moved the coffee cup out of Jamie's reach a second time. "You, my friend, need something stronger than this."
"Suffice it to say," Jamie continued. "I wasn't in the mood to break bread with the man who's been hired to take my son away from me. He's probably taking notes on the linen napkins."
Lorna shook her head. "So why is Amanda with this guy?"
"Well, supposedly, it all started with her wanting to help me. She intended to spy on Grant, via Kevin. Guess it didn't work out that way."
"Amanda playing spy is like my donning a habit and trying to convince people I'm a nun."
"Yeah, that'd be a tough sell," Jamie's eyes twinkled.
"Excuse me? Did you just imply that I'm "
"Not a nun," Jamie finished. "Which is not a bad thing. Especially considering the role nuns just played in your sister's abduction."
"Touche," Lorna said, then turned serious. "You know, if you need a character witness, I'd be happy to get on the stand and swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about what kind of manipulative, cheating, sociopath scum Grant can be."
"That's right... You two had a thing...."
"While he was married to your sister," Lorna finished, sheepishly. "One big fat mistake."
"For both of you," Jamie agreed. Then added kindly, "Stuff happens. You do the best you can or at least what feels like the best you can at the time "
His beeper went off.
Jamie wasn't on call. Which meant that it could only be about one of two patients. Jamie knew it, and Lorna knew it, too.
"Lori Ann?" Lorna gasped.
"No," Jamie was already getting out of his seat, throwing his crumpled napkin onto the tray and heading for the elevator banks. "Jenna."
"Grandma..." Rachel's mind was still reeling from Spencer and Alice's intrusion. But, she made the connection. It all clicked now, even the part where, when she'd first laid eyes on him, Rachel thought she and Kevin had met before. "You're Sally Frame's little boy."
"Actually," Kevin clarified. "I'm Jennifer Thatcher's little boy. Sally Frame just happened to be the one who gave birth to me."
"You're Kevin Thatcher," Rachel repeated.
"I was. I legally changed my name to my uncle's when I inherited the trust fund he left me."
Alice told Kevin, "I didn't know you were in Bay City. It took this man to show up on my doorstep to tell me."
"Just facilitating a little family reunion," Spencer demurred. "You know how strongly I believe in family."
"Kevin," Amanda shook her head in confusion. "I remember you. We played together when we were little kids. Why didn't you say anything... why were you keeping who you really are a secret?"
"Because, my dear," Spencer pulled out the same avuncular tone for Amanda as he'd used on Rachel earlier. "In addition to helping Grant regain custody of Kirkland, your Mr. Fowler excuse me, Thatcher, here also had a plan for destroying the entire Frame-Cory clan. A plan you were a key part of."
Amanda knew that, sensibly, her first glance after such an allegation should be at Kevin. After all, he was the one Spencer had accused. But Amanda couldn't help it. She had to look at Rachel first. To see how her mother was enjoying being right.
To Rachel's credit, she didn't seem to be enjoying it at all. But she did look as if this was exactly what she'd been expecting all along.
Finally turning to Kevin, Amanda asked, "Is he telling the truth?"
Kevin said, "I won't discuss our relationship in public. If you honestly would like to hear what I have to say before making up your mind, we'll do it in private."
"Fine," Amanda said. "Our North veranda is extremely private."
Kevin only bobbed his head politely. "Lead the way."
As he followed Amanda, Kevin needed to brush by Alice. She rested her arm on his shoulder, bidding him to turn around and look at her.
"Kevin," Alice said softly. "Oh, honey, it's been such a long time."
The impeccable manners he'd demonstrated all evening appeared to desert him now. Kevin not only declined to acknowledge her request, he declined to respond in any way, disappearing through the French doors and onto the veranda without a single word.
The Surf Bar bartender slid a glass of white wine in front of Marley. She looked up with a frown. "I didn't order this."
"It's from the gentleman," the bartender nodded behind her. She quickly scanned the tables, grimacing as she noted Grant sitting at a secluded booth.
"I'm sorry, who "
"The older gentleman sitting in the back."
Marley turned again, her eyes immediately going to Grant, who she now realized was staring at her, his mouth agape, as his face flushed an unhealthy shade of red. Scooping up the unsolicited glass, she grabbed her purse and made her way to his table.
"Just throw it in my face and get it over with," he muttered upon her arrival.
"What is this, Grant?"
"It's a glass of wine, Marley," he emphasized her name as hard as she had his. "You drink it."
"Why the hell did you send it to me? Were you afraid I wouldn't have one handy to throw in your face should the situation warrant it?"
Grant eyed her hotly, shifting nervously in his chair. "No, I - it was a mistake. A misunderstanding."
"You were hitting on me," she laughed in surprise.
"I saw a woman sitting at a bar alone and - "
"You were hitting on me!"
"I made a mistake," Grant finished off his own glass and signaled the bartender for another.
Marley plopped down next to him he had bought her a drink, after all practically giggling at his discomfort. "You know you're not exactly presenting a fatherly image, approaching strange women in bars. What would our judge have to say about this?"
"I don't know. We can ask him right after he tells us what he thinks about a woman, the guardian of two young, impressionable girls, sitting alone at a bar wearing a come-hither black dress, drink in hand, trolling for her next one-night stand."
"I am doing no such thing!"
Grant leaned back in his chair and studied her, suddenly a little more at ease. "Oh, dear, are you all dressed up for Jamie, hoping against hope that tonight's the night you two can resume your utterly charmless love-affair?
"Jamie is on call at the hospital. I was here alone."
"And now we're back to you trolling bars," Grant smiled in satisfaction, accepting a fresh glass of bourbon from the waiter. "Or drinking alone. Either way "
"What I do is none of your damned business," she flared.
"It is when it affects my son. Who, by the way, I had a lovely morning with at the Bay City Country Club," Grant grinned, his face uncharacteristically bright and sunny. "He's an extraordinary boy. Bright, witty, athletic. He's so..."
"... Like Vicky," Marley nodded in agreement, unable to help herself. "I know. He's more like Vicky than any of them. The girls remind me of Jake, that same energy, that same inability to sit in one spot for more than a second, afraid that something more fun is going on somewhere else. And Steven, I'm told, takes after his namesake grandfather. The arrogance, the ambition. But Kirkland, he's Vicky all over again. That combination of sarcasm and sensitivity."
"I do realize," Grant began, thoughtfully staring into his glass. "That the sum of Kirkland's merits is not due solely to Victoria's and my superior DNA..." Marley lifted her eyebrows, caught off-guard by his words. "Kirkland could've had a tough road ahead of him after Vicky's death and my... absence. You and Jamie provided a reliable support system and... I thank you," Grant tipped his glass to her.
She shook her head, wondering if the acknowledgment was a play on his part. Or maybe it was merely the second glass of bourbon talking. She couldn't decide.
"If you really believe that," Marley tested gently. "Then why are you trying to take that support system away from him?"
Grant looked up from his glass. She waited for his angry eyes to meet hers. Instead, she saw something she didn't expect, and didn't want, to see.
"I'm his father," he said simply. "I deserve the chance to raise my own son. Victoria refused to allow that. It wasn't fair to me or to Kirkland."
"Do you think maybe she felt she had good reason?"
"Her reason was that I wasn't Ryan," Grant said quietly.
"And you never forgave her for that."
"She never forgave me for that. I would have forgiven her anything. For Kirkland's sake. If she had given us the chance to be a real family."
"You're getting maudlin, Grant." Marley did her best to stifle the twinge of was it sympathy? Empathy? Good God, it wasn't compassion, was it? that his words elicited. "Have another drink."
"So you can tell the judge I'm a lush?"
"No. So I can seduce and have my way with you," Marley smiled sweetly at Grant, rising from the table.
He cocked his head at her, eyes giving her the once-over, then finally coming to rest on Marley's face with a calculating look.
"There's not enough liquor in the world," he finally snorted. But not before Marley noted the briefest glimmer of interest in his eyes.
Grant's gaze was still on her as Marley left the restaurant. The knowledge pleased her, excited her, and if she were smart, it should have scared her.
But it didn't. Which should have scared her even more.
"Is Spencer telling the truth?" Amanda repeated. "Are you really dating me because of some thirty year old family vendetta?"
Kevin made sure that the patio doors were locked before turning around to answer. "Now? No."
"But in the beginning..."
Amanda didn't know how to reply to that. So she hid behind a safer train of thought. Safer to her, anyway. "Why? I don't understand. What do you have against us?"
"You in particular, nothing. The combined Frame-Matthews-Cory family, quite a bit."
"You're a member of the combined Frame-Matthews-Cory family. You're a Frame. And a Matthews."
"Not by choice. I was perfectly happy being little Kevin Thatcher, son of David and Jennifer Thatcher. It wasn't until Sally showed up that everything fell apart."
"You loved Sally," Amanda said. "I remember. You were crazy about her."
"When I thought she was just the nice lady who was going to marry my Daddy after my Mother died, yeah, I thought she was aces. It wasn't until I found out Sally was responsible for Jennifer dying "
"Hold it! Jennifer Thatcher got drunk and drove her car off a cliff, or something."
"Because of Sally Frame. Because of Sally's affair with my father. How do you think Jennifer felt, not only finding out that her little boy wasn't hers, but that he was actually the illegitimate son of her husband and some college girl, that David was now planning to leave Jennifer for, and take their child with him?"
"Sounds to me like David was the jerk in this scenario, not Sally."
"Of course. Having an affair with a married man, giving your baby up for adoption then showing up years later to take him back, those are the actions of a saint."
"None of us are saints, Kevin. We all make mistakes."
"And we all have to pay for those mistakes. Since Sally isn't here, I figured I'd start with letting her dear brother Jamie in on how it feels to have the child you raised snatched away from you. I'd let you all feel it."
"That's why you took Grant's case."
"It was extremely serendipitous, I must admit."
"What about Alice? Fine, you're angry with Sally, but what did Alice ever do to you?"
"You mean besides the part where she obviously took a wrong turn in the child-rearing department? How about, instead of keeping me and raising me herself, she decided to let me go off with Catlin Ewing and his brand new family, Brittany and little Catlin Jr."
"Catlin! I remember Catlin, too. And I remember that you loved him just as much as you loved Sally. You guys were a family before she died."
"We were. Which is a fact that drove Brittany crazy. After a couple of years of either ignoring me completely or jumping down my throat for so much as forgetting to hang up my jacket, she finally told Catlin, "Either your living, breathing shrine to Sally goes, or I do." Guess who he picked? Catlin, who swore he loved me like his own son, came into my room one evening, took my backpack out of the closet, and told me I'd be going to live with my Grandma Alice. Now, I'll be honest, I didn't make things easy on Grandma Alice. I was a pissed-off kid, and I made sure everybody in the vicinity knew about it. In a little while, Grandma Alice decided I needed a stronger hand, a male influence. So she shipped me off to Uncle Russ. You have any idea how much fun it is living under the sanctimonious moral authority of Uncle Russ? He raised Olivia, you know. How would you say she turned out?"
"Leave Olivia out of this," Amanda said.
"I'd be happy to. Because in the end, I didn't stay with Uncle Russ too long. He passed me on to Aunt Liz. She passed me on to Aunt Janet. Aunt Janet wasn't able to have children of her own, so they thought she might be eager to put up with the blessing that was me. She wasn't. I stayed with Marianne and Rick Halloway. I stayed with Michael and Karen Randolph. I went back to Grandma Alice. Oh, it wasn't all bad, you should have seen the frequent flyer miles I accumulated."
"I'm sorry," Amanda said. "I'm sorry you had a rough childhood. I'm sorry your mother both your mothers died. I can't imagine how horrible that must have been for you. But I still don't understand what any of this has to do with me."
"You were going to be my way in. You were going to help me take Kirkland away from Jamie, and then you were going to help me destroy the rest of you, one by one by one."
"You keep using the past tense."
"I have a reason for that. I think you know what it is."
"And I'm just supposed to believe you?"
"No. I meant what I told your mother earlier. I do happen to think you're very smart. I don't expect you to just believe it when I say I care about you, and that I've given up my vendetta. Or, to be completely honest, I've given up achieving it through you." Kevin said, "But I do think I have a way of demonstrating my sincerity where you and your family are concerned. Will you give me the chance to prove it to you, Amanda?"
By the time they reached Jenna's floor, Jamie had left Lorna in the dust. She may have been running as fast as she could, but Jamie was flying. He'd barely crossed the ICU threshold before leaping into the gray and white fray of doctors, nurses and machines already clustered around Jenna's bed.
A cacophony of beeps, alarms and voices assaulted Lorna's senses like a solid wall of noise.
...She's in respiratory distress!... We need to intubate!...
Over it all, Lorna could hear Dean screaming, "What the hell is going on? What are you doing to her?"
He was standing in the corner with Felicia, Jenna and Lorna's mother needing to physically hold Dean back from charging the scene.
Lorna asked them both, "What happened?"
"That's what I'd like to know," Dean snarled. "She was fine a minute ago. She was talking to me, she was fine, and then all of a sudden "
Felicia said, "She just went limp, like someone flipped a switch. All the monitors began shrieking and everyone just rushed in. They pushed us out of the way..."
...Pupils are non-responsive ...Blood pressure dropping...
It was too much. Too much noise, too many people, too many voices calling out over each other. Too much was happening and, at the same time, not enough, because Jenna wasn't moving. Her eyes weren't opening, and when they brought the paddles out, when they smashed them into her chest, she didn't react in the slightest.
...We need a unit of O neg...
Lorna gave up trying to decipher orders barked through the air. Lifting her eyes from Jenna, she looked to Jamie who was focused, determined, still fighting, his hands still moving with precision and speed as the alarms kept ringing.
He quickly glanced up at the clock.
...We need an OR prepped!.... She has to be stabilized first!... Where's the O neg?...
Lorna looked at the clock, too, seeing that too much time had passed, that the alarms had been blaring for too long.
...Liver enzymes are elevated... platelet count low...
There. There it was. Quick as a flash. A blink as the wheels turned and another as the realization hit him, even though Jamie's hands never slowed. It was only a split second during which his eyes met hers, the apology in them clear as day to Lorna, if not yet to everyone else in the room.
Alice stood by the patio doors, gazing longingly through the glass, unable to hear a word they were saying, simply marveling at seeing her daughter's child once again after so many years.
Rachel came up quietly, unwilling to startle her, but needing to pose a question of her own.
Alice heard and, without turning her head said, "Do you think he looks like Sally at all? As a little boy, he really favored David. When he got older, I thought, maybe her smile... Sally had the sweetest smile, do you remember? I thought he had her smile. But, when he lived with me, he didn't smile very often."
Rachel said, "How long has it been since you've seen him?"
"He left home when he was sixteen. Got himself declared an emancipated minor, claimed the trust fund his uncle Kevin that's the Kevin Fowler he was talking about willed him, and disappeared. Not even so much as a phone call or a Christmas card. I prayed that he was doing alright... Mr. Harrison tells me he's actually doing very well. One of the most respected lawyers in the country, he said. Family law. Helping adoptive parents hold on to their children. I guess I shouldn't be surprised about that."
Rachel couldn't wait any longer. She had to ask, "How do you know Spencer Harrison?"
Alice turned around, surprised by the query. "I... I told you, he just showed up on my doorstep, telling me he knew where my grandson was and did I want to see him? I was as surprised as you to find us dropping by here."
"Spencer," Rachel began tentatively. "He can't, he really isn't... you shouldn't trust him."
"He promised to bring me to Kevin. He did."
"I realize that. But Spencer never does anything out of the goodness of his heart. He always has an agenda."
"Sounds like someone else I once knew," Alice noted pointedly.
Rachel accepted the barb silently. It wasn't really a topic on which she could disagree. Instead, she pressed on, "I just want you to be careful. When Spencer does a favor, he usually wants one in return. You don't know who you're dealing with "
"I'm sorry, Rachel," Alice crossed her arms. "Are you warning me off the man?"
"That's not how I meant it."
"Then I'm sure you'll forgive me if, under the circumstances, I decline to accept your counsel. Fool me once, and all that..." She changed the subject. "Is your grandson at home? Steven Frame, isn't that his name? I would love to meet Steven. Tell him some stories about his grandfather. Stories you probably don't even know."
Was this really sickly-sweet, mealy-mouthed Alice? Rachel had to admit, age had done wonders for a personality she'd once believed insipid at best, nonexistent at worst. Rachel almost wanted to congratulate Alice on finally growing a backbone. Though she suspected that bit of counsel wouldn't be warmly welcomed either.
"Excuse me, ladies," Spencer stepped up, touching each on the elbow in turn. Rachel recoiled at the contact. Alice, however, smiled warmly. "I must be going. This is a family occasion, after all, I wouldn't want to interrupt. Alice, it was delightful getting to know you. I hope we might have a chance to meet again."
"I'd like that," she said as he kissed her hand.
"Oh, and Rachel," Spencer noted, as if the notion had just spontaneously crossed his mind. "I presume you've been giving some thought to my earlier proposition? The offer is still on the table, but I'm afraid there's only a twenty-four hour window of opportunity. I expect to hear from you soon. Give my best to Kirkland, would you?"
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