With the tornado that was Jamie's jubilant family finally gone, that left only Felicia and Lorna still holding vigil inside the police station's waiting area.
"It's been hours," Felicia lamented. "We know he's been booked and processed. Why won't anybody tell us what's going on?"
"They haven't even let Cass really talk to him yet. You and I will just have to wait."
"You heard what Cass said in court. This is personal for Hamilton. Prosecuting Jamie made him look like a fool. Don't think he isn't going to make your father pay for that."
"That's why he has a lawyer. Cass can explain that there were mitigating circumstances. We'd just lost Jenna. We were all grieving. Not to mention after everything he's been through, we could still prove that Dad wasn't in his right mind when "
"How did I miss it?" Felicia wondered. "How could I have failed to notice that he was hiding something this colossal? What is wrong with me?"
"You were so happy to have him back," Lorna guessed. "Maybe, even if there were signals, you consciously chose to ignore them, so you wouldn't rock the boat. You two were practically still on your second well, maybe third honeymoon." Felicia smiled weakly at that. Encouraged, Lorna went on, "Who goes looking for trouble at a time like that? Besides, he didn't want us to know. He was protecting us, like he always does. Now it's just our turn to protect him. We're a family, aren't we? Let's prove it."
"You're right, you're right, of course you're right." Felicia nodded gratefully before, in the next breath, calling out, "Cass!" her high-heels clicking across the room to dig her remaining nails into her friend's very expensive suit, all but shaking him by the lapels, demanding, "How's Lucas? When can we take him home?"
"He's fine. A bail hearing has been set for tomorrow morning," Cass gently detached her fingers. "Although, I need you both to prepare yourselves for the possibility that bail might not be granted. Lucas is skirting very close to Three Strikes and You're Out..." he took a deep breath and ventured, "I'm happy to help you in the short run. I would do anything for you, that goes without saying. But, like I said back in the courtroom, considering my own history with Cecile, I don't think I'm the right man for the job. It hits too close to home with me. I get infuriated just thinking about that woman. And when I'm furious, I'm not thinking straight."
"I don't trust anyone but you," Felicia insisted. "And the fact is, your history with Cecile makes you the optimal attorney for Lucas. After what she did to Frankie, you know better than anyone else what she was capable of. You understand why killing Cecile was a public service not a crime!"
"Mom!" Lorna gestured for her to keep her voice down. "Please!"
"Please, what? Don't tell the truth? Isn't that what all those detectives over there are supposed to be interested in? Getting to the truth?"
"Right now what they're interested in is hearing the defendant's wife publicly announce that his victim had it coming. That's not helpful." Lorna returned to the topic at hand. "And if Cass thinks he can't be accommodating to Dad then maybe he's right, maybe we should hire another attorney. But we've got to do this fast. What about..." a thought hit her. "What about Mike Bauer? He's familiar with the case already, and it shouldn't be a conflict of interest now that Jamie's been cleared."
In less than the blink of an eye, Felicia turned on her daughter. "Could you, just for once, just for once, Lorna, think about someone other than yourself?" The attack came so unexpectedly, Lorna didn't know how to react. She opened her mouth, then closed it without making a sound, staring, speechless, as her mother went on, "It's bad enough that your petty jealousies drive you to deride Cass on a regular basis. It's all right, I've almost gotten to the point where I'm used to it; it's just so much background noise. But, now, with your father's life on the line, it still all has to be about you? As long as the man you've set your cap for this week if it's even been that long is out of danger, then to hell with everyone else? Hasn't Lucas done enough for you? How long are you going to keep making him pay for perceived slights from almost twenty years ago?"
Power of speech returning with a vengeance, Lorna proved that she was her mother's daughter, giving back as good as she got with, "I'm not the one who made it seem like I would completely fall apart unless Donna was made to immediately pay for what she did to Jenna. I'm not the one who made my father feel he had no choice but to kill a woman all so his beloved Fanny could get the roundabout revenge she was itching for."
"No," Felicia shot back. "You're just the one who batted your big brown eyes and called him Daddy, and wept about your so-called boyfriend being locked up for thirty years. You knew Lucas would put two and two together and give you what you wanted. You didn't even have to ask. No, that would have meant actually taking some responsibility for the outcome. All you needed to do was play on his emotions, to tweak his guilt." Felicia's painfully accurate presumption about precisely how Lorna had attempted to persuade Lucas only, in this case, to help break Jamie out of jail once again threw the younger woman into a tailspin of dumbstruck silence, allowing her mother to add, "If you hadn't been so damned intent on playing Nancy Drew for Jamie "
"Jamie didn't kill Cecile. No matter how much it inconveniences you, he didn't deserve to go to prison."
"But your father does?"
"No!" Lorna gritted. "Stop twisting everything around! You think I wanted things to turn out this way?"
"It doesn't matter what you wanted. What matters is that Lucas is in jail because of you." Felicia turned her back on Lorna, clinging to Cass even as she told her daughter. "I can't look at you right now. Go, Lorna. Leave."
"Not until Lucas is "
"Go!" Felicia repeated in a tone meant to make Lorna's stomach contract until she couldn't breathe. "Go congratulate Jamie. Cass and I will take care of Lucas."
The impromptu party that broke out at the police station following Jamie's release had moved to the Cory house by the time he and Rachel pulled into the driveway. While Jamie stayed behind to pick up his confiscated belongings, Amanda, Matt and the boys sped back home, apparently frantically dialing caterers and sommeliers the entire way, because, when Jamie walked through the door, a full, congratulatory buffet had been laid out, complete with champagne, flowers, and even music, courtesy of Jasmine.
It was quite a feat. Though even it paled in comparison to what Jamie heard as he was leaving the station. Rachel, in a civil tone, asking Alice if she would like to join them.
"No, thank you," Alice responded cordially. "We wouldn't want to exceed our quota of miracles for one day."
The festivities whirled around Jamie, everyone pushing to talk to him, urging him to eat, drink, celebrate. He wanted to, he really did. But he was also having a bit of a hard time keeping his eyes open. It felt like the adrenalin fumes he'd been living on for days? weeks? months? had finally surged their last, and he was dead on his feet, more tired than he had ever been in his life, medical residency included. More tired even than that time with... Lorna.
He'd spotted her at the station. She was busy with Felicia and hadn't seen him look her way. He'd wanted to walk over, to say... what? Thank you? I'm sorry? Does this mean...? What does this mean? The last thing he wished to do was disturb or upset her. And Felicia had looked as if the last thing she needed right then was to be disturbed.
So Jamie had allowed his family to sweep him away. And left Lorna to fend for herself. Just like he had earlier with Carl.
The adrenalin was back. Or at least enough of it to propel Jamie across the room to where Carl was standing, sipping his Cabernet WhoTheHellCares, and looking over the happy scene like the epitome of a benign, loving paterfamilias.
"I know that you gave Lucas the file to frame Donna with," Jamie barely had to lower his voice, grateful, for the first time, that Matt's record label persisted in producing such loud, driving music. "I know that you hired one of your on-call thugs to carry out the actual murder."
"Is that what he told you?" Carl inquired, curiosity mixing with amusement.
"Are you actually going to deny it?"
"To the death," his stepfather confirmed. "Though not necessarily my own."
"Was that a threat, Carl?"
"I never make threats. How terribly foolish to telegraph one's intentions ahead of time."
"You're being suspiciously nice to me," Grant observed as Marley offered him another glass of wine, following an invitation to dinner at her house that started with the girls in attendance, and ended after bedtime, with just the two grown-ups sharing a nightcap. "Occam's Razor suggests it's due purely to guilt on your part, rather than any desire to spend time in my presence. Or worse, pity."
"A little bit of all three," Marley admitted. "And neither."
"Ah, a cryptic woman. My favorite kind."
"And here I thought your favorite kind of woman was blonde, busty, and with legs that go on forever."
"A little bit of all three," he studied her neutrally over his glass. "And neither."
Marley stood up and thoughtfully walked around the table. When she was inches from Grant, his eyes level with her waist, she leaned over and, without so much as a word or gesture of warning, kissed him. Not passionately or rashly, nothing at all like before; but sweetly, deliberately, affectionately. The soft, moist skin of her lips brushing his for only the briefest of moments before she pulled away. It was the gentlest she'd ever touched him, and the effect it had on Grant proved more powerful, more stirring than anything that had ever come prior where she was concerned, either in bed or out, fantasy or reality.
So naturally, he reacted instinctively, leaping from his chair as if singed, and lashing out, "You bitch." The genuine shock on Marley's face wasn't enough to stop Grant's tirade. Or his very self-aware self-destruction. "I guess now I know what it takes for me to get some genuine warmth from you. Roll over and play dead for Jamie, and you're all over me again, just like the first time."
Doing her best to remain in control, Marley stiffly corrected, "I did appreciate what you did for Jamie this morning. But I appreciated even more what you did for Kirkland. He didn't get just one father back today, he got two. He saw that you could be a decent man. It made him very happy. That is what I wanted to thank you for."
"I don't believe you. This is exactly the kind of move Vicky would pull. Get me off balance and then... then... " Well, frankly, he didn't know what then. He just suspected it couldn't be anything very good.
"Would you stop comparing me to Vicky!" Now it was Marley's turn to explode. "I am not Vicky. If a Vicky replacement was all that you wanted, well, then... you wouldn't be the first now, would you?"
The authentic pain in her voice stopped Grant dead in his tracks, and actually succeeded in shifting the focus off his own distress onto someone else's for a change. "Marley..."
"Jake," she counted off bitterly. "Jamie, now you. Each time, she was the original. I was the colorless copy."
"No," he insisted. "You're wrong."
"What have I told you about instructing me on how I should feel?"
"I can't speak for those other two losers, but, no, with me, it was never about Vicky."
"That's true," she conceded. "With you it was always about Kirkland. I wasn't even the objective, just the implement."
"And what was I?" he shot back. He indicated the space their kiss had once occupied. "What was this?"
"A mistake, obviously. Trying to treat you like a human being is always a mistake."
"You're wrong. Again. You think you can't measure up to Vicky? Well, I've got news for you, Marley, there are regions where you have far and away surpassed your sister. Vicky was a lot of things. She was manipulative, and she was scheming, and she was underhanded. But she always had a good reason for her actions even if those reasons made no sense to anyone but her. Vicky was never cruel just for the fun of it."
"Go to hell, Grant."
"Can't go someplace you already are," he snapped and stormed out.
Needing to cleanse his palate after the nausea-inducing chat with Carl, Jamie sought out his sons, only to find them both sulking the moment one caught sight of the other, like some metaphorical, cranky matter and anti-matter.
"What's going on with you two?" Jamie asked Steven and Kirkland.
"Nothing," they shrugged in blase, fraternal unison.
"Not to sound completely egotistical, but is it about me?"
"It's about Steven being a jerk like usual."
"No, he's right, Dad. It's about me being a jerk."
"Alright, then. Were you being a jerk about me?"
"I'd rather not go into it at this time."
"Got it." Jamie appealed to Kirkland, "Whatever Steven said about me, it's because he was upset, which he had every right to be. I put you both through the wringer these past few weeks."
"Yeah, you have." Kirkland was such an agreeable boy. "But it's over now, and I just want to move on."
"Agreed. Let's move on. Except I'm afraid if you guys can't let whatever this grudge is between you go, the vacation I'm planning to take all three of us on is going to seriously suck."
"Vacation?" Kirkland's ears perked up. "Where?"
"Haven't decided yet. Could be the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, could be Space Camp in Alabama. Maybe that underwater hotel in Dubai. I'm wide open for suggestions. But if all the two of you plan to do is alternately ignore and snipe at each other, I might as well save my money."
"We're over it," Steven insisted. "And my vote is Space Camp."
"We are so over it," Kirkland agreed. "Cooperstown is closer. And cheaper."
"You guys are lousy liars," Jamie observed, keeping the ensuing thought: Especially for two kids of Vicky's, to himself.
"Prove it to me. Hug it out. I mean it," he said in answer to their identical, incredulous stares.
"Can't Kirk just punch me in the stomach like normal brothers would?" Steven offered.
"I'd be happy to," Kirkland chimed in. "For the good of the family." When Jamie failed to look appeased, Kirkland groaned and grudgingly opened his arms, whining to Steven, "Come on, dude, we could be going to Cooperstown."
"Why would I want to go to Cooperstown? If I have to hug you, we're going to Space Camp. And I get to lead the mission."
Kirkland coached himself, "Close your eyes and think of baseball," as he leaned forward stiffly to embrace his brother.
"Like you mean it," Jamie directed, the boys groaning and making another attempt at something resembling an acceptable hug.
"Will that work?" Steven asked hopefully.
"It's a start," Jamie sighed, realizing this fence wasn't going to be mended in one night.
"But we're still going to Cooperstown, right?"
"Maybe. Maybe not. Sailing could be fun, too. The three of us on a boat. No wi-fi. It'd be an adventure."
"I doubt Steven could handle it," Kirkland teased.
"I could handle it fine," his brother defended. "Dad's the one who's been checking his cell-phone every five minutes since he got home. Expecting a call?"
"No." Jamie tucked the device into his back pocket. "Just hoping for one."
Intimately familiar with Jasmine's taste in music, Lila had staked out the spot furthest from her daughter's acoustic display, and she'd had no cause to regret it since. Lila believed that one could be a supportive parent and encourage your child's passions without going deaf, if it was all the same to Dr. Spock.
"Drink?" Amanda encroached upon Lila's oasis to thrust forward a crystal glass filled to the brim with champagne.
"No, thank you. I'm stepping out later this evening."
"Yes," Lila said simply, and left it at that.
"Is what you two have... serious?" Amanda seemed utterly unashamed to pry.
"What we two have is... private."
"Sure," Amanda nodded. "That makes sense. Kevin is a very private person. Probably why he'll be too courteous to tell you that he kissed me the other day."
Lila turned her head very slowly to face Amanda head-on. Southern drawl freshly out in full force, she observed, "How darn fortunate for me that you've got no such inhibitions."
"We're family, Lila." Amanda patted her shoulder. "You deserve the truth."
"And what might that be?"
"That Kevin's still in love with me. He told me so himself. Go ahead. Ask him. See what he says...."
"Matt!" John's voice caught him about to knock on Donna's door.
"Hey," Matt turned around, somewhat confused, but cordial. "What are you doing here?"
"I was visiting Donna."
"Oh. I didn't realize..."
"I stopped by a few days ago after checking on a patient, and we got to talking."
"Good. Good," Matt bobbed his head for emphasis. "I'm glad. She's been feeling pretty alone. Marley refuses to see her and, well, Donna doesn't have a lot of friends to begin with so.... I'm glad you've reconnected."
"Donna asked me to give you a message, Matt. I was actually going to call you, but since you're here We didn't expect you. Jamie's hearing "
"He's home. All the charges have been dropped.
"That's terrific! How did that happen?"
Matt sighed. "That part is a little less terrific. Lucas confessed to having done it."
"Lucas? Felicia's Lucas?"
"But what did he have against.... "
"His intention was just to frame Donna. Cecile was the means, not the end."
John groaned. "Oh, Donna's not going to like hearing that."
"It's why I came. I wanted to tell her myself, before she found out some other way."
"You can't do that," John put out his arm to keep Matt from knocking again.
"Excuse me? Why the hell not?"
"Because that's the message Donna asked me to convey to you. She doesn't want to see you anymore, Matt."
"You look ready to pass out on us," Rachel rubbed the back of Jamie's neck with one hand.
"Sorry, Mom." He barely managed to stifle a yawn. "I'm... "
"Beat? Exhausted? Worn out? Drained? I can't imagine why, honey, you've had such a carefree last couple of days."
Jamie looked around, "Do you think people would mind if I cut out early? It seems kind of rude, you went through all this trouble for me..."
"Right now, Jamie, you could do anything you wanted, including calling each and every one of us out for any transgression, real and imagined, we ever committed against you, and all anyone in this room would feel like doing is throwing their arms around you and saying how happy we are to have you home."
He ducked his head, embarrassed. "Thanks, Mom."
"We will make it up to you. Me, especially. I meant what I said on the stand. I realize the part I played in all this. I'm going to try my best to do better from now on."
"You had nothing to do with what happened to me," Jamie insisted. "You are not to blame."
Rachel hesitated. And then she challenged, "You weren't even there when Steven got hurt this last time, helping Allie. Tell me, whom do you blame for what happened?"
Jamie sighed, remembering that Mother Knows Best wasn't just an adage, it was a fact. "Myself..." he grudgingly admitted. "You know, I used to think I wanted you and Alice to be friends. But now I'm not sure. Not if you two are going to start swapping stories about me."
"Don't worry," she reassured. "We are in no danger of that happening." Rachel kissed her son's cheek. "Go get some rest, Jamie. You and I, we have a lot to talk about. When you're ready, I would be very grateful if you'd consider telling me even a little bit of what happened with you and Cecile and the hospital...." She watched Jamie stiffen up and swore, "But not now. Now, all I want is for you to know and believe how much I love you. And how much I will always love you, no matter what."
"I love you too, Mom." He hugged her tightly and, catching sight of Carl out the corner of one eye, agreed, "You're right. We do have a lot to talk about. Later...."
Without meeting Lucas' eyes, Cass set up and opened his briefcase on the metal table in the prison room reserved for attorneys and their clients.
"How are you managing?" he asked.
"A prison is a prison," Lucas spat. "I'll let you know if I discover anything new."
"You understand that your confession really tied my hands," Cass lamented.
"Not up for the job?"
"No. And I told Felicia as much. She begged me to represent you."
"Fanny is hard to say no to."
"I don't feel comfortable with this."
"Because of what Cecile did to Frankie?"
"That's a huge part of it, yes."
"Or because you're the one who actually killed her?"
Notwithstanding his best intentions, Jamie fell asleep the moment his head hit the pillow, clothes and lights still on. He proceeded to sink so deeply into unconsciousness that, despite the persistent knocking, it took him several minutes of concentrated effort just to resurface again and clear his head. Although, when he finally did manage to pry his eyes open and adjust his dilated pupils to the brightness, Jamie had to assume he was still dreaming.
Because there was no way Lorna was actually there, in the flesh, outside his window, three stories off the ground, standing on the balcony, knocking impatiently and gesturing for him to come on, hop to it, man, open up.
Jamie lurched to his feet and, half shading his eyes with one hand, half rubbing them, fumbled to unlock the balcony door.
The dream that looked and sounded like Lorna asked him, "Is it cool for you to have girls in your room, or will you get in trouble with your Mommy?"
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