"Don't. Please, Dad, don't," Lorna begged Lucas. But whether he couldn't hear her plea over the general din of the courtroom, or had simply chosen to ignore it, either way, Lucas refused to turn around and acknowledge her words.
"Why is he doing this?" Felicia, also unable to make him respond to her cries of "Luke!" turned her bewilderment on Lorna.
"Because," Lorna admitted, her voice low, though she doubted anyone was paying them the least bit of attention. "He was involved."
"In Cecile's death? Why? He barely knew that witch!"
"So he could frame Donna," Lorna said, prompting her mother to gasp and cover her mouth with both hands as the unfathomable suddenly became... possible.
The judge banged his gavel loudly enough to get everyone's attention, and quickly. He beckoned Hamilton and Mike to a sidebar at the bench. After a round of intense whispering and dramatic hand waving from all three, he announced his decision. Lucas would be allowed to make a statement, but no cross-examination by either attorney.
"Lucas should have his own attorney," Jamie spoke up. Odd to say but, for a moment, it seemed like, in all the hubbub, his presence had been completely forgotten.
Unsurprisingly, Felicia's head swiveled towards Cass.
"No," Cass said, upon realizing what she was asking. "No, that wouldn't be a good idea. Cecile and I... we have a history. I shouldn't be involved."
"Please, Cass," Felicia beseeched him. "At least just for today, just for this."
Cass and Frankie exchanged looks.
"Go ahead," she urged him. "For Felicia."
Cass sighed and rose reluctantly, joining Lucas next to Jamie and Mike at the defendant's table. With nowhere for him to sit, Cass remained standing as Lucas took the stand. And, with the judge having placed a moratorium on questions, there was technically nothing for Cass to do either, while his best friend's husband his unsolicited client confessed to having committed murder.
As evidence that he was, in fact, the man they were looking for, Lucas described in detail how he had, with premeditation and intent, acquired precisely three milligrams of poison necessary to administer Cecile's lethal dose. He recounted how he had staged the murder scene to look like strangulation mentioning items hidden out of sight that he himself had moved, and no one else could have known about. He identified the exact spot where he'd planted the incriminating vial on Donna's property a fact unreported by any news media. He explained why he'd done it, too, causing Felicia to moan softly in her seat.
"Did you act alone?" the judge queried, despite his own no-questions decree.
"Yes," Lucas swore, while Lorna was unable to stop herself from looking Carl's way.
He met her gaze calmly. It even seemed, to Lorna, as if the bastard actually smiled.
She wanted to kill him. She wanted to get up out of her seat and, just like Cecile's staged death, strangle him with her bare hands. Lorna bet once she started, other people might even want to join in. Jamie, perhaps. Grant, certainly. Maybe even Matt and Amanda.
But Lorna didn't dare. Not because she was afraid of the consequences. Not even because Cory and Elizabeth were sitting right there, next to their father. But because of the way Felicia was currently clinging to her. Lorna was afraid that, if she stood up, her mother would collapse completely.
Once Lucas had finished, Mike rose and began, "In light of this new evidence, we move that Jamie Frame be immediately released on "
"Oh, give me a break," Hamilton interjected. "I know the economy is in a bad place, Mr. Bauer, but the city still has a few detectives left on its payroll. What do you say we throw them a bone and give the boys and girls in blue a little something to do, for their self-esteem if not the local unemployment rate?"
The judge translated, "Is that your way of saying you'd like to see some evidence before you agree to drop the charges against Dr. Frame?"
"Yes, Your Honor," Hamilton concurred meekly.
"I'm willing to entertain arguments from both sides on the subject. In private. Bailiff, clear the courtroom save for Dr. Frame, Mr. Castigliano and their respective attorneys."
Lorna helped Felicia up, following the rest of the gallery as they filed into the hall. The last thing she noted was Frankie leaving the building completely. Without a word to Cass. And looking unaccountably worried.
Lorna's first thought was that something had happened with Lori Ann. She considered chasing Frankie down to find out. But, then she realized that, even if there were a problem, there'd be nothing Lorna could do about it now and that it would be the last thing Felicia could handle at this point.
So instead, Lorna made a mental note to follow up with Frankie later, and re-focused her attention on Felicia, who'd exited the courtroom in what looked like a state of shock. She now stood, dazed, in the middle of the hallway, as if awaiting instructions.
"Let's sit down," Lorna suggested, leading her mother to an unoccupied bench. "We don't know how long the wait it going to be, no sense wearing ourselves out."
"I don't want to sit down." Felicia jerked her arm away. "I want to know how come you didn't tell me what Luke was planning to do in there? Didn't you think I deserved a little head's up before my entire world fell apart?"
"I had no idea myself," she defended.
"You knew he'd killed Cecile in order to frame Donna. You knew. You told me so yourself before he'd ever uttered a word."
"I did," Lorna admitted that much, realizing that stalling would only make things worse. "But I didn't know he intended to turn himself in."
"How did you know about Cecile, then?"
"He he told me."
"When?" Felicia hissed.
"And you saw no need to tell me?"
"We were trying to protect you."
Felicia indicated the closed courtroom doors, behind which her husband's fate and, by extension, her own was being decided. "You've done a hell of a job."
"He never told me he was going to turn himself in," Lorna reiterated.
"He told me," Felicia suddenly realized with a start.
"He told me. Or at least he tried. This morning. Except I wasn't listening. He told me to make sure I was in court today. He said it was because of you. You and Jamie. But he really just wanted to make sure I'd be here to watch him fall on his sword, live."
"He probably just wanted to get it over-with in one fell swoop," Lorna guessed. "You, me, the public confession. A clean break."
"He told me I should be here to support you, because you had feelings for Jamie, and he was about to be sent to prison for thirty years. Well, that's not likely to happen now, is it, Lorna? Looks like Jamie is about to walk out a free man. It's your father who's facing prison now. Because of you."
The hallway outside the courtroom was packed solid with people. And angst. Lots and lots of angst.
If Grant had his way, he'd be nowhere near the place. But he'd come for Kirkland, and for Kirkland he'd stay. Even if, at the moment, his son was huddling next to Rachel, bubbling with excitement and confidence in anticipation of Jamie's imminent release.
Logic told Grant that he wasn't needed. Stubbornness and not a little bit of pride nevertheless kept him sticking around.
He chose a quiet corner, the better to squirrel out of the way, only tearing his eyes from contemplating the uninspired ceiling paint-job to catch, over a half-dozen random heads, the sight of Marley several feet down the corridor, seemingly doing the exact same thing. (Keeping out of the way, not pondering the decor. In Marley's case, she'd chosen her own cuticles as the all-encompassing object of interest.)
He wondered if she could see him, too. Especially when she raised her head and offered what, to Grant, appeared to be an understanding, sincere, downright warm smile his way.
He wanted very much to take that smile as an invitation to join her. But then damn her Lila's worlds proceeded to echo in Grant's brain. "Marley can hurt you without even trying now. And all I know is, most of the time, she's trying."
"Thank you for what you said about Jamie." Kirkland materialized at his father's elbow, prompting Grant to tear himself away from Vicky's eyes in the middle of Marley's face, and instead, confront the identical pair belonging to his son.
"I just told the truth," Grant shrugged, hoping the gesture might also push down the residual bile that had risen again in his throat at the memory. "You're a good kid."
"You mean when I'm not being a pain in the ass."
"I'd rather have a pain in the ass son," Grant told him honestly. "Then no son at all."
"People always talk about wanting a son so they can carry on the family name."
"That's one reason. A minor one," Grant wondered what he was getting at.
"I saw you practically keel over when I said my name was Kirkland Frame."
Oh. That. Grant hoped he'd been more discreet.
"I didn't do it to hurt you. I was telling the truth, same as you. It's been my name since I was, like, six. I asked Jamie if I could change it. I got so tired of being questioned, in school and stuff, about why my brother and my dad had a different name. It just made things easier for me."
"I understand. The last thing I want to do is make your life harder. I've already made it hard enough."
"I've also been thinking about what you said, about how I know how to forgive. I kind of realized I've been saying I forgive you, but then, whenever I get pissed off, I turn around and throw it right back in your face."
"That is the Harrison in you," Grant sighed.
"Well, it isn't cool. I'm sorry."
"Abandoning and making you feel unimportant and unloved wasn't particularly cool on my part, either," Grant countered, prompting Kirkland to laugh at his father choice of words. "You and I, son, we're a work in progress. We just have to keep trying. Deal?"
"Deal," Kirkland said. "And I'll try to be less of a whiny, emo punk about it, too."
"That's good. Because, I got to tell you," Grant ducked his head as if sharing a deep, dark confidence. "I really can't stand Coldplay."
If Grant had been hoping to make a connection based on a common distaste for a currently hot, yet nevertheless wussy band, his efforts at cultural relevance proved for naught as, a second later, Kirkland noticed, "They're opening the doors!" and tore away from his father, diving into the throng stampeding back into the courtroom.
"After considering the latest testimony," their judge didn't even wait for the crowd to return to their seats before announcing his verdict, "It is the opinion of this court that Lucas Castigliano be placed under arrest."
"On what charge?" Cass clipped, all business, despite Felicia's frantic attempts to capture his attention.
"Oh, we've got some doozies," Hamilton promised. "Leading the pack: Murder in the first degree. And then some supporting players: Tampering with a crime scene, obstruction of justice..."
"Making you look like a fool?" Cass challenged. "That's really what this is about, isn't it? The posturing? It's all for show."
"Pissing off the prosecution," Hamilton agreed. "Is never a good idea."
Lucas willingly raised both arms in front of him while Detective Chiang slapped on a pair of cuffs and led him from the courtroom, Cass following.
On the way out, they passed close enough to Felicia and Lorna for Lucas to mouth, "Forgive me," in their direction.
"This isn't a done deal, Luke," Felicia swore. "We'll fight this." But her final words had to be directed to the back of Lucas' head.
Standing only a few feet away, Rachel's instinct was to reach out to her friend, but just as she began to do so, the judge went on, "Dr. Frame will remain in state custody until all aspects of this case can be checked and verified by Mr. Hamilton's office."
And now it was Jamie's turn to be led out, also handcuffed.
"We'll wait for you at the police station," Rachel offered her son a reassuring smile.
Jamie nodded in acknowledgement, his face turned towards his family, but his eyes planted firmly on Lorna. She gazed back at him, her expression unreadable, but also unbowed. She refused to yield until Jamie had completely disappeared from sight.
And then she told her mother, "Come on, we're going to the precinct, too."
"This is getting to be a habit with us," Donna observed lightly. "You coming back, me being surprised."
"You dropped quite a bombshell on me the other day," John harkened. "I needed some time to process it all."
"As I recall, you asked for it."
"I know, I know, I'm not blaming.... I guess I just didn't expect..."
"Me to finally tell the truth after all these years?"
"Yeah," he chuckled ruefully. "I'd say that was a part of it."
"How's Gregory?" Donna changed the subject, not necessarily to deflect from herself honestly, there was nothing left for her to deflect off anymore but rather because she wished to offer John the option of doing so.
"I don't know. I haven't seen him. Allie gave the baby away yesterday. Gregory was with her. He specifically asked Sharlene and I not to come, not to interfere. Personally, I don't think he trusted his mom to keep from making a scene. He was probably right. We both went along with his wishes. I'm not going to pretend it was easy."
"That baby is your first grandchild. No one would expect it to be easy."
"He says that, with an open adoption, the parents are required to keep in touch. They'll send letters, pictures. Gregory says he and Allie will even be able to visit him once in a while, so they can watch him grow up, from a distance, though."
Donna noted, "I watched Marley grow up from a distance. It wasn't vaguely the same."
"No," John agreed. "I don't imagine it could be. But you had Marley and Vicky taken away from you. Allie and Gregory made this decision themselves. Well, at least Allie did. Gregory... I understand Gregory's reasons. I'm just not thrilled about them."
"All those years I had to act like Marley was just my sister, every time Reginald would threaten me not to forget, not to slip up, I'd be laughing at him on the inside. As if I even could stop pretending by that point."
John asked, "Have you told your doctors any of this?"
"What does that mean, you tried?"
"It means that, every time I open my mouth, as soon as I begin talking about Reginald and having to act a certain way around him, all they want to know is: Did he molest me?"
"Did he?" John asked, horrified.
"No!" Donna dismissed. "Please. If that were the case... well, it would be simple then, wouldn't it? All the doctors in this place, that's what they've been trained to deal with. They know all the right things to say in that situation. If you ask me, whenever they get a new patient, they're hoping she's been molested, because then it's just Psychotherapy 101, follow the script and everyone lives happily ever after."
"I sincerely doubt, Donna, that they're hoping "
"Oh, you know what I mean. Honestly, John, when you check in a new patient, are you eager to encounter a condition you've never seen before and don't know how to treat, or are you hoping for something nice, neat, and predictable?"
"But that's not for my sake. That's so I can help my patient!"
"I didn't say they were evil. Perhaps they do genuinely want to help me get out of here. Though, between you and I, with my ample pockets, I suspect the accounting department at least, would be quite content for me to remain permanently infirm."
"You know you're showing signs of classic paranoia."
"I'm not accusing them of anything, I'm just speculating. And answering your question from before. Yes, I've told my doctors. No, they have not been helpful."
"What do you expect them to do for you, exactly?"
"I don't know," Donna confessed.
"Alright then. Different question: What do you expect me to do for you?"
Rachel sent Carl home with Cory and Elizabeth, but she, Amanda and Matt, along with Lorna, Felicia, Steven, Kirkland and Alice followed Jamie, Lucas, Mike, and Cass down to the police station, descending on and filling up the waiting area, desperate for word of what was going on behind closed doors.
A part of Rachel still wanted to make an overture towards Felicia. They were such good friends, after all. Rachel was taking no joy from the possibility that Jamie's freedom might come at Lucas' expense.
But, on the other hand, she was superstitious enough to, until her son was officially a free man, be afraid of expressing too much sympathy for Felicia. Lest it somehow backfire on her in a cosmic way. Rachel knew it wasn't scientific or logical or even particularly sane. But it was how she felt, so she kept her distance.
Instead, Rachel stuck as close as she could to the door behind which Jamie had disappeared. As if those few last inches would make all the difference when it came to shortening her infernal wait.
"It's nice to see you again, Dr. Frame," the guard told Alice, also hovering in the vicinity, presumably with the same objective as Rachel's. "Hope the news will be better this time around for you."
"You've been here before?" Rachel double-checked. "To see Jamie?"
"Yes. This morning."
"I thought Jamie wasn't seeing anybody. I begged Mike to "
"He heard about Steven being in the hospital. He wanted to make sure his son was alright."
"I could have told him that. I visited Steven right after he was admitted. I brought him to the hearing."
"Jamie wanted my professional opinion."
Alice braced herself for the inevitable explosion, wondering what new and exciting allegations Rachel intended to hurl her way this time around.
But, instead of accusations, Rachel simply said, "Thank you, Alice. Thank you for looking out for him. Now and... before. I'm sure Steve would have been very grateful to you."
"It's not just about Steve," Alice confessed. "I care about Jamie for himself. He's my friend. You raised an amazing man. I'm sure Steve is very grateful to you, too."
"Gentlemen, since it could well take some time for my people to completely check out our latest confession," Hamilton looked from Cass, arms crossed and leaning against a wall of the police precinct's conference room, to Mike, perched calmly along a scuffed table, flipping through a travel magazine. "Might I suggest we all go back to our lives and reassemble at the conclusion of the investigation?"
Mike, not bothering to lift his eyes from a picture of a white sandy beach, answered, "Cut the huffing, puffing, and bluffing. I've read the crime-scene reports. We all know that Lucas' story was legit, and that any decent DA would have set Jamie free on the spot."
"Not to mention," Cass interjected. "Allowed me immediate access to my client."
"After he's processed," Hamilton stalled; desperate to hold on to what little control he still had over the situation. "Funny, isn't it? You get dropped by one of Cecile's accused killers only to be rehired by another. I guess, even in death, she just doesn't want to let you go."
"I'm irresistible. It's a real problem. I've gone for counseling and everything."
"Considering your history with the deceased, you would have been my prime suspect, if the vial hadn't pointed to Jamie."
"I know," Cass sympathized. "Having to actually follow legal procedure is such a drag."
"Right on time!" Hamilton leapt to his feet as Toni Burrell entered the room.
"It checks out," she directed her results to the DA, fully aware that the two defense attorneys were hanging on every word. "I compared Lucas' testimony with the crime scene photos and the forensics. Perfect match."
"Could he have gotten a hold of the photos and made up a story to fit?"
"I also checked my own personal case notes, and unless he read those, as well...."
"Tick tock, Mr. Hamilton." Mike finally put away his magazine, standing up and reaching for the phone on the wall. "Do you want to dial up the clerk to tell him our news, or shall I?"
"What the hell, Lucas?" Was the most coherent thing Jamie could think of to say after Lorna's father had been escorted to the cell adjacent his in Bay City PD lock-up.
Lucas surveyed his latest accommodations with a practiced eye. "Been asking myself the same thing. I'd hoped never to see the inside of one of these again."
"So why then would you "
"It was either this, or stand back and watch Lorna play Bonnie to your Clyde."
"I'm sorry. What?"
"She asked me to help break you out of prison so that you both could go on the run. If I didn't, she was going to turn to Carl for help. I picked the lesser of two evils. At least, I think I did. You sure as hell better be worth it, Doc." In response to the horrified look on Jamie's face, Lucas reminded, "I'm not exactly innocent in this. You are."
"You didn't kill Cecile."
Lucas nailed him with a lethal look. "You don't know what I did."
"Whatever it was, I know you didn't do it alone. Carl "
"Has nothing to do with this as far as the cops and lawyers are concerned. Or are you itching to pull Rachel and your siblings back into this mess? Look, Jamie. You want to help me? Take care of Lorna. Be good to her, be deserving of her. You break her heart, and even prison won't keep me from making you regret it. Are we clear?"
Jamie nodded solemnly.
"Good." Lucas smiled, took a seat on his cot, and, as if they weren't locked into adjacent jail cells but socializing in some more congenial setting, inquired politely, "So what exactly are your intentions towards my daughter? Do you see the two of you getting married? Or just shacking up and having a good time?"
"I to be honest, I haven't thought that far ahead, yet. The only immediate plans Lorna and I made before... everything... was to go on a date."
"I'm going to prison just so the two of you can date?"
"Well, it'd be our first official date," Jamie offered. "We've kind of been stuck "
"At the gate," Lucas finished. "Yeah, Lorna told me. She also said a lot can happen at the gate, and apparently a lot has. You get that look on your face every time you say her name. The one that strikes fear into the hearts of fathers everywhere."
"Do you love her?" Lucas zeroed in.
"That," Jamie said, politely but firmly. "Is between Lorna and I. No one else."
"I'll accept it. But I'm sure you won't mind if I take your goofy grin, not to mention the fact that you were set to go to prison on her old man's behalf, as a bit of clue. Make my baby girl happy," he pleaded more than warned, the two men finally breaking eye contact only after hearing a lock clicking somewhere down the hallway. They both rose from their cots as Hamilton led Mike and Cass towards their cells.
"Dr. Frame," the District Attorney began formally. "All charges against you have been dropped. You are free to go, with my sincerest apologies for any distress this situation may have caused you and your family."
"Did you make him say that?" Jamie asked Mike.
"No, I do believe he humbled himself all on his own," Mike marveled. "Good D.A. Here's a cookie."
"What's going to happen to Lucas?" Despite the door being opened, Jamie hesitated to step out of his cell.
"That's his attorney's problem," Mike indicated Cass. "Not mine."
Jamie turned his head but his former lawyer his former friend deliberately avoided the gaze. Whether it stemmed from lingering bad feelings after their last interaction, Frankie's decision to testify, or something else altogether, Jamie didn't know. And he realized he didn't particularly care.
The only thing that mattered now was Jamie's promise to Lucas, "If you need anything, anything at all, please "
"You know what I need," he reminded. "You take care of that, and we're square."
Jen clicked her phone shut and told GQ, "My father still isn't answering."
"Maybe he's in court."
"I think he's just avoiding me." She sighed, "The argument with his grandmother this morning. I've never seen him like that. He actually ran away from her. No wonder she called him a coward."
"That really upset you."
"I suppose. I know it's stupid. But, I've never seen my Daddy fold like that. I've never seen him back down. I guess I thought he wasn't afraid of anything. Cliche-city, huh?"
"Women are supposed to be looking for their fathers in the men they date. You think your dad is brilliant, strong, and fearless. I've decided to take it as a compliment."
"Have you also decided not to let his being white bother you?"
"Yeah.... I've had a chance to reevaluate a big chunk of my belief system lately."
"I wonder why," Jen teased.
"I was so sure Allie's baby was mine. She was acting so weird, refusing a paternity test... I spent a lot of time thinking about how I would raise my son. What sort of values would I be able to pass down to him?"
"Are you sorry you won't get the opportunity now?"
GQ hesitated. "Truth?"
"I can take it."
"No," he owned up. "I'm not sorry about the way things turned out. I stepped up because it was the right thing to do. But I didn't want to be a father. Not now. I've got stuff happening, I've got big plans."
"Right. You and Steven, the next Sergey and Larry."
"Well, yeah." GQ confessed, "If Hudson had turned out to be mine, I would have fought for him, and I would have done my best to bring him up right. But, I am so glad that I don't have to now. I am so glad that it's all over."
"Jamie!" her vigil closest to the door finally paid off for Rachel. She was the first one to see her son step out into the waiting area, a free man. Hamilton had sworn that it would happen as soon as they processed the necessary paperwork, but Rachel hadn't allowed herself to fully believe it. More superstition on her part.
"It's okay, Mom." Barely a few seconds out of prison, and Jamie was once again comforting her. "Don't cry, please."
She'd sworn to herself that she wouldn't fall back into old patterns. She'd meant what she said on the stand. She'd burdened Jamie with too much, made him feel needlessly responsible for her own well-being. She intended to stop it immediately.
Just as soon as she let him hug her and reassure, "Everything is finally okay."
Kirkland barreled past her, flinging himself into Jamie's arms as if it were the last tackle before the buzzer. His father laughed, somehow practically lifting the nearly six-foot, albeit still adolescent-thin, boy off the ground.
"I knew it, I knew it," Kirk kept repeating. "I knew you were innocent, I knew it."
Jamie looked over his younger son's shoulder at his older one. "You knew it, too, didn't you, Steven? I listened to what you said in court. If my dad did it..."
Steven shrugged. "I was just being logical. Prosecution had a crappy case."
"Come here," Jamie pulled Steven into a hug, too. Steven didn't resist nearly as much as might have been expected.
Amanda was next, then Matt, then Alice; all offering hugs, handshakes, congratulations.
From a separate corner of the room, planted in a hard plastic chair next to Felicia, Lorna watched the family celebration, not begrudging them their joy, simply wishing... wishing that there had been another way. And grateful that Carl wasn't among the celebrants. That, Lorna really didn't think she could handle.
A part of her wanted to get up and join them. Another part wanted to whisk Jamie away. A third took pained stock of her mother. Felicia had blanched so white, not just her lipstick, but even the faint, pink blush on her cheeks looked grotesque, like blood stains. She'd ripped two nails from clutching the bench so tightly while Lucas testified. Their jagged edges plucked at her clothes, leaving loose, unsightly threads. She was shaking, rattling the metal legs of her chair on the scuffed, Formica floor. And she was clutching Lorna's arm as if letting go of it, meant letting go of everything.
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