(This week's episode is rated PG-13. If you are offended by sexual content, please do not read any further. And you probably shouldn't watch soaps, either.)
"You're not helping," Jamie told Lorna mock-sternly as he struggled to fit his key into the guesthouse lock.
"Really?" she questioned, all innocence, one hand slipping into Jamie's front pants' pocket, "And here I felt pretty sure I was."
"The door," Jamie explained. "You're not helping with the door. I was hoping to save the porch exhibitionism for our second date. I'm old-fashioned that way."
"You're right," Lorna mused, prying herself away from him long enough for them both to step inside. "First date action dibs should go to the kitchen table."
"Our old friend the table is definitely on my to-do list," Jamie reassured, peeling his jacket off Lorna's shoulders and letting it fall to the floor. "But, I thought I'd go really retro and take you to bed the first time we make love."
"Classy," Lorna undid his tie, tossing it to join the jacket, then reached into his other pocket, this time with a less stimulating goal in mind. She pulled out his cell-phone and dictated, "Starting now, no calls, unless they're from your kids. Everyone else can wait."
"Actually, I told my mother to let us know if she heard anything new about Lucas. I thought it would be good to have the back-up in case Felicia... forgot again."
"So your mother knows our plans for the weekend?"
"You and I paraded in front of half of Bay City this morning, after spending the night together. The only people who haven't deduced our plans for the weekend are complete idiots.... Oh, damn." Jamie's shoulders sagged and he peered up, frustrated, at the ceiling, all but smacking himself on the head with both palms. "Of which I am one."
"Now what?" Lorna asked, more amused than upset by the possibility of yet another snag. "You heard your beeper go off? You forgot you were married... again?"
"Not exactly," Jamie winced. "I I haven't bought condoms in over a decade. I didn't think we'd... Not tonight... I wasn't prepared...." He looked at her apologetically, "I suppose I could rifle through Steven's old room. Or, aw geez, Kirkland's..."
"Why? Do you have some?" he asked eagerly.
"No. But, it's okay, Jamie, really."
"Listen to me. Yes, the fact that I've been celibate for more than ten years pretty much takes me out of the incubation period for most STDs. But you could still get pregnant."
"That's not very likely."
"Are you on the pill? IUD, what?"
"I'm over forty. I've been trying on and off for the past few years and... nothing. I'm too old."
"Tell that to my mother. And my grandmother. Have you met Cory and Elizabeth? Or my aunt Nancy?"
"In that case," Lorna drew Jamie to her, kissing him then whispering, "We should be so lucky."
He studied her intently. "Are you serious?"
"I've wanted a baby for a long time. Honestly, I don't think it's going to happen. But if it did, I can't think of a better father than you." Unable to decipher the look on his face in response to her confession, she rushed, "I know how ridiculous that sounds. Technically, we've just met. This is our first date! We shouldn't even be talking about And your two kids are almost grown. You probably don't want to start all over again "
"Just promise me one thing, Lorna?"
He looked at her with such love in his eyes, Lorna thought she might break into pieces on the spot. "Any daughters we have will look exactly like you."
"I'll make you another promise," she offered. "Even though you didn't ask. If things don't work out, if it just stays the two of us, I promise I'll be okay with that. I won't go all Marley on you."
Jamie suggested, "How about we focus on one thing at a time? For now?"
He stroked her cheek and Lorna turned her head to kiss his palm, noting with surprise, "You're trembling."
"I'm just so happy to be here...With you... Like this." He admitted, "I'm also damn nervous. It's been a very long time."
"Scared you've forgotten where everything is?" she teased, bringing his fingers to her lips.
He smiled at her wryly. "No. That part we covered in medical school. And your refresher course last night was more than adequate." The smile faded. "I'm scared I won't be able to take care of you, to satisfy you, the way you deserve."
"We'll take care of each other," she reassured, kissing him lightly, then with more passion. "We know we've got the chemistry."
"We know we've got the feelings."
"You don't have anything to worry about. You'll get back into the swing of things. It's just like riding a bicycle."
Jamie frowned and told her thoughtfully, "You know, I realize it's been a while. But I seem to recall it being nothing at all like riding a bicycle."
Lorna laughed and pulled him closer, nuzzling Jamie's neck, urging, "Tell me what you want.... Tell me what you like...." Her tongue traced the contours of his ear, her breath warm, moist, eager. "Tell me what you need..."
"You," Jamie swore simply. "The only thing I need is you..."
Frankie told Cass, "I know you're the one who really killed Cecile."
He didn't say anything in return. He continued sitting as he was, in the passenger seat of their car, staring at Frankie, neither confirming nor denying a thing.
Frankie laid it all out for him. "I listened to what Lucas said on the stand, and I realized it couldn't have been him. He kept calling the drug a poison. It's not a poison. Cecile died from an allergic reaction. That's something unpredictable. A pro like Lucas would never use such a volatile substance if what he really wanted to do were commit murder. And he certainly would have never used three milligrams, which is what Lucas claimed. Three milligrams has never been indicated as a fatal dose under normal circumstances. It is, however, exactly the right dose for complete memory loss."
"How do you know?" Cass asked, all but choking on the words.
"Same way you do. I checked that website you had marked on your computer. That's what I was looking at before the baptism. I had my suspicions, but, until I confirmed..."
"She deserved it," Cass said.
Frankie exhaled, realizing that the confession part of their conversation was over. Now all they needed to do was decide what came next. "That wasn't your call to make."
"Well, if it wasn't mine, then who the hell's was it?" he exploded, smacking the dashboard with his palm. "The law couldn't do anything about her, Jamie wasn't going to do anything about her, and you.... "
"You're right. I wasn't going to kill her. No matter what Cecile may have done, I would never have taken such a drastic step."
"Which left me," Cass confirmed. "Except that I didn't intend to kill her, either. That's the biggest joke of this whole thing. All I intended was to give Cecile a taste of her own medicine. Do to her what she'd done to you. I just wanted to wipe her memory clean and dump her somewhere far, far away from here. See how she liked it."
A part of Frankie was relieved, though not enough to make the horror disappear completely. "But she turned out to be allergic to the drug..."
"I know. The irony is just rich, isn't it?"
"How did Lucas get involved?"
"We made a deal when he first returned to town. He'd help me with Cecile, and I would encourage Felicia to take him back. Or, at least, I wouldn't stand in the way, which, frankly, I really wanted to do. I've always thought a woman like Felicia could do so much better than an on-again/off-again, low-level gangster."
"What does help you with Cecile mean?"
"After I drugged her, Lucas was supposed to hand her off to some people he knew who'd make sure she never bothered us again. What was in it for him was the thought that Cecile would be declared a missing person, the police would be called in, they'd find the file on Donna that Lucas planted, and they'd arrest her for killing Jenna. I had nothing to do with that part. That was all him. Although, when Cecile died, the whole plan kind of went out the window. I wasn't made for this kind of thing. I panicked. Lucas was the one who cleaned up, staged the scene, dropped the vial on Donna's property."
"How could you let him do that, Cass? You knew Jamie's prints were on it!"
"I forgot," Cass swore. "Standing there, looking at Cecile's body it all happened so fast; I forgot everything. If it weren't for Lucas, I probably would've left incriminating evidence all over the room. I certainly wouldn't have thought to try and pin the blame on someone else."
"He covered up for you. That low-level gangster saved your ass. And now he's going to jail for you."
"I didn't ask him to do that," Cass stressed. "He's protecting Lorna and Jamie, not me."
"He's still covering for you. My God, you're supposed to be defending him."
"I tried to get out of that. And he's not doing it for me. He's doing it for Felicia. I talked to Lucas yesterday, after he was arrested. He told me Felicia couldn't bear to lose us both. And that's what would happen. We would both go down for this."
"God help me, Lorna, you take my breath away...." Jamie lifted the blanket and she slipped into his arms as if she'd been doing it forever.
Her fingers playfully danced up and down his bare back, curving around to tangle among the fine salt and pepper hairs on his chest, taking turns, tentatively at first, tenderly touching, teasing, savoring... discovering each other's vulnerabilities, each other's sensitivities and delights.
Jamie kissed Lorna's forehead, her eyelids, her cheek, her chin, her throat and neck, her breasts, her stomach, moving lower and lower still until...
"May I?" he asked, voice hoarse, his head dipping between her thighs.
"Yes," Lorna managed to whisper just before a single flick of his tongue sent her into a paroxysm of pleasure. "There... Please, Jamie.... Touch me there..." she moaned as the unremitting waves overwhelmed her, vibrating out through her legs, past her shoulders and even down to her quivering fingertips, which she dug into the sheet beneath her.
Lorna closed her eyes, the better to relish every exhilarating shiver, every delectable tremor, every stirring sensation, only opening them again once she felt Jamie sliding back up her body; after he was on top and finally, fully inside of her.
His face inches from hers, Jamie smiled languidly and murmured, "Nope. Just like I thought. Nothing like riding a bicycle..."
She burst out laughing in a hat trick of relief, amusement, and joy, lifting her hips and wrapping her legs around Jamie's waist, straining, actually hurting to get as near to him as possible, matching her own rhythm to his, realizing that they fit together perfectly.
"You are so hard..." she marveled.
"And you are so wet," he panted breathlessly in return.
"All for you. You made me feel like this. You made me feel this good. You..."
With a groan, Jamie picked up the pace, thrusting faster and smoother and deeper, prompting Lorna to note, "You're so close..."
"I am so, so close," he agreed.
"Let me feel you. Right now. Let me feel you come inside me. I want you so much."
"Not without you."
"It's alright. No. I already "
"Not... without... you."
She cupped his face in her hands and, this time looking him right in the eye, no longer hesitant, no longer afraid, no longer alone, swore, "I love you, Jamie..."
"I love you, Lorna..."
"I love you..."
She let go then, allowing him to steer her over the edge, allowing herself, with a sharp intake of air, to melt and shudder beneath him into a pool of pure, primal happiness.
And it was only after Jamie heard her gasp, only once he'd felt her buck and tighten ecstatically around him, that he finally permitted himself to enjoy with a cry equal parts surprise and triumph that pierced Lorna's heart and nearly brought her to tears his own explosive, long-awaited, healing release.
Allie understood that she should be doing something to help Gregory. Mouth to mouth resuscitation, CPR, or, at the very least, running to find someone who could. But she felt rooted to the spot, incapable of forcing out any sort of sound, not even a scream.
He wasn't breathing. He wasn't breathing...
Allie forced herself to move. She stumbled out of Gregory's dorm-room and down the hall, heading for the only place her bewildered brain could think of Steven's.
She pounded on the door, sobbing incoherently. Steven opened up, Sarah right behind him. Allie grabbed her cousin by the arm and dragged him back to Gregory's room, unable to do more than point at him lying collapsed on the floor.
"Shit," Steven swore, kneeling down, checking Gregory's pulse, then pressing an ear over his nose and mouth, listening for respiration. "What happened?"
"I I don't know," Allie barely found her voice. "He had a fit of some kind."
"Is he epileptic?" Sarah asked. "Does he take medication?"
Allie shrugged helplessly.
Steven looked up at both girls, asking, "Either of you know CPR?"
Sarah nodded and sank down to the floor next to them.
Steven said, "You do the breathing, I'll do the chest."
Sarah reached under Gregory's neck and tilted his head backwards with one hand while pinching his nostrils shut with the other.
Steven counted briskly out loud, pumping thirty, quick chest compressions, stopping for Sarah to give Gregory two breaths, then starting up again. In between, he looked over his shoulder and asked Allie, "Have you called 911 yet?"
She shook her head, practically cowering.
"What the hell are you waiting for? Call them now!"
Allie reached for her cell-phone.
"No! You won't reach 911 that way. You'll get some stupid mobile company operator. Use a landline. Jesus, Allie, don't just stand there, move it!"
They lay in bed, Lorna's arms wrapped around Jamie's neck, his face buried contently between her breasts, their legs intertwined beneath the covers.
"Can you think of any reason," Jamie asked without opening his eyes. "Why we shouldn't just stay this way forever?"
"Well," Lorna kissed the top of his head, stroking his hair, seriously considering the question. "It might make going to work a little difficult."
"Good thing we're both currently unemployed then."
She chuckled, shifting her weight and slowly, sensually rubbing against him until he whimpered in surrender. Lorna rolled Jamie over on his back, straddling and riding him to a quick, luscious orgasm that swept her right up along with it.
A half-hour later, they were in the shower, Jamie lifting Lorna up, making love to her against the wall, water steaming over both their bodies. And twenty minutes after that, they were back in bed, working up a sweat all over again.
There were a great many reasons for Carl and Spencer to avoid each other, and only one for them to speak. So when Carl showed up unannounced on Spencer's doorstep having apparently walked over the back way from the Cory house, the better to cover his tracks Spencer knew the implication wasn't good.
"We have a problem." Carl pronounced and paused, as if waiting for word to reach the last row balcony of a thousand seat theater.
Since Spencer was standing merely a few feet in front of him, it didn't take that long. Besides, he'd already entertained his own suspicions. "Lucas?"
"Precisely. Some mutual friends of ours are rather concerned that he may attempt to evade his inevitable future taxpayer-funded accommodations by sharing with the federal government clandestine details about certain business matters which we, among others, have been involved with in the past."
"He wouldn't be that stupid," Spencer desperately wanted to believe what he was saying. "Not only would he have to reveal his own involvement in those business matters, but it's highly doubtful our mutual friends would allow him to continue singing for long. He knows that."
"I don't give a damn about Lucas. I do, however, care very much about whom our friends might capriciously choose to blame for this unfortunate security breach."
"I wasn't the one who gave Lucas Donna's file," Spencer reminded.
"No. But you did give it to my wife, which was an equally egregious violation. If they come after me, they will come after you, make no mistake about that."
"I'm sure you'll have no problem making the dogs heel to your command," Spencer bluffed, actually sounding anything but sure.
"I'm not the investor."
"I'm not the client."
"Damn it, Harrison, take off those blinders of yours and listen to me. Tempers are still smoldering after the compound was compromised due to Donna's misuse. That damn file of yours alerted the world of its existence. Merely because the upright and moral authorities haven't managed to find it yet, doesn't mean they intend to give up looking. We are both on the hook for that calamity. I've recently had to... discipline... several characters at my personal retreat, for refusing to let the issue rest. We need to regain control of this situation. Or Lucas won't be the only one with a target on his back."
"So tell me," Jamie, now spooned against Lorna's back, chin on her shoulder, thumb dreamily circling her nipple, wondered, "How come you and I just didn't hook up eighteen years ago and save ourselves not to mention a hell of a lot of other people two decades of heartache?"
"Eighteen years ago," she drew his arms tighter around her. "I wasn't savvy enough to appreciate what a man like you had to offer."
"You mean a very messy past, two kids, and obscure comic-book references?"
"I mean a gentleman, an actual, gentle man, someone who knows how to make a woman feel cared for, someone who knows how to make her feel loved. I should have known though, even then. If I remember correctly, you were one of the few people in town who didn't think I was evil incarnate. You even defended me to your mother once or twice."
"All I knew was, you were way too much of a woman for my little brother to handle."
"But not you, though?" Lorna turned over, snuggling up against him. "You handled me just fine."
"Thank you," he said. "In case I wasn't adequately... effusive earlier, thank you for... everything. Thank you for being you."
"My pleasure," she assured. "Just in case I wasn't adequately effusive, either."
Jamie held her at arm's length, his tone genuine and suddenly deathly serious. "You don't understand. You didn't just keep me from going to prison, you didn't just save my life, Lorna. You made me believe it was worth living again. I these last ten years, I figured I could be a father, a son, a brother, a friend, a doctor... but, a lover? A man? I thought that part of my life was over for good. You saved me."
"Don't say that. Jamie, please, don't," she begged.
"Because it isn't true. You're making me sound like... like a hero, or something."
"You're my hero, Lorna. I'm sorry I haven't said so explicitly before, but that's what you are."
She snorted. "Heroes don't stumble through life, constantly tripping themselves up at every possible opportunity."
"Heroes make other people's lives better just by being in them. That's you."
"You're not playing fair. Are you trying to make me cry?"
"I am trying to make you realize how astounding you are. I don't think enough people have done that in the past."
"Well, quit it. Or, at least, quit putting me on a pedestal. That's just asking for trouble." She reminded him, "It isn't always going to be this perfect. I'm going to have my bitchy moments, and you're going to have times when you're just too damn nice and sensible for your own good, which is bound to piss me off. If our expectations are too high "
"Do you think I love you because I believe you're perfect, Lorna?"
"I hope not. You'd be a fool if you did."
"I love you because you're brave and strong and loyal and passionate and alright I'll admit to being somewhat shallow extraordinarily hot."
"And I drive a mean get-away car, don't forget that."
"I don't love you because of what I think you can do for me, or what I can get from you. I love you because of who you are. And because of who I become when I'm with you."
"Unbelievable," Marley muttered, having gotten home from the courthouse to find Grant sitting on her couch, leafing through a volume of Dickens he'd plucked from the shelf. Great Expectations, no less. She guessed, "Did Fowler use the bat signal to alert you? I just finished filing the papers "
"I pay Kevin Fowler a great deal of money to know exactly what's going on in Bay City Family Court at all times, and to fill me in on said goings on, on an as needed basis." Grant set the book aside and asked, his tone deceptively casual. "Where are the girls?"
"They're spending the weekend with some of their McKinnon relatives. Their cousin Ben is getting married."
"Would that be the same Ben McKinnon you horrified Donna by dating in high-school?"
"I heard he swore off women after you. Nice work, Marley."
"Oh, if only you would honor us all by doing the same."
"What about Kirkland? Where's he?"
"He's still at the Corys. You saw him there yourself this morning, he told me. He interpreted Jamie's acquittal as permission to move back in, regardless of anything you or I might have to say about it."
"This is all because I called you a bitch the other night, isn't it?" Grant indicated the telltale, rolled up, blue legal document Marley had walked in carrying. "Don't you dare try and lie to me. You just signed my son over to Jamie. You had no right to surrender your legal guardianship without at least consulting "
"I had every right. Vicky made sure of that. She named me Kirkland's legal guardian. Well, now I've transferred that designation to Jamie."
"I am Kirkland's father!"
"Yes, yes, second verse, same as the first," Marley waved her hand in the air, as if conducting. "Keep your voice down. It's not that we've been having trouble hearing you. We've just been having trouble caring. Try and get this through your head, Grant. Kirkland has two parents. That's how he wants it. All I've done is put Jamie on equal legal footing with you, as he should have been all along."
"I'll contest this."
"Knock yourself out," Marley laughed. "Oh my, is that the smell of fear I sense wafting through your overpriced cologne?"
"Jamie Frame doesn't scare me."
"He should. You won't be able to handle him like you handled me, no matter how heavily you turn on the manly charms. I'm afraid you're not his type."
"I gathered as much after witnessing Jamie's juvenile attempt to sneak Lorna out of his bedroom this morning." Grant offered Marley the tidbit, then watched for her reaction.
She looked him straight in the eye, enjoying the resultant unease. "Good for them, they finally made it out of the driveway. Now, if you're done huffing and puffing and trying to blow my house down, you can leave the same way you entered. I'll make a note to have the locks changed in the morning."
"I'm not leaving until we come to an understanding."
"I'm not sure one can come to an understanding with a fickle bitch. Besides, you and I have nothing to come to an understanding about. I care about what happens to Kirkland, but I am also confident that Jamie will be able to look out for his interests much better than I ever have. I am done wasting my time with you and your games."
"So that's why you did it," Grant inferred. "You gave up guardianship of Kirkland so that you wouldn't have to... play... with me any longer. I must say, Marley, that's mighty cowardly of you. I'm the injured party, here. You were the one who kissed me under the pretense of trying to be nice, then stabbed me in the back."
"First of all, when I kissed you, I was trying to be nice. You're the one whose warped little brain instantly processed it as a power move. Talk about projecting! And second, turnabout is fair play. You used me to maneuver Jamie into prison."
"Was I wrong about him and Lorna? And did I tell you to spill about Cecile's blackmail to the cops? Now who's projecting?"
"I owe Jamie this, after my lapse in judgment of trusting you. As it is, I doubt he'll ever forgive me."
"A-ha!" Grant snapped his fingers. "I take back what I said about you being afraid to face me. It's Jamie you're actually hoping to face, the more intimately the better. You honestly think that using my son as your pathetic peace offering will warm the good doctor's heart towards you again. Not to mention other body parts currently ear-marked for someone else."
"What goes on between Jamie and I, friendship or otherwise "
"I knew it!"
"Is none of your concern."
"Second verse," Grant echoed. "Same as the first. Dear God, it's like banging my head against a marble slab talking to you. When are you going to accept that the drooling idiot has moved on? He doesn't want you!"
"Why are you so concerned with what I feel for Jamie, or anyone else for that matter? You can't use me to get Kirkland anymore, which means you can drop the act that you actually give a damn about me. Shift your energy to finding another tool. Hey, you and Lorna had a thing going once, didn't you? While you were married to Amanda? Maybe Jamie's new plaything will help you. Just leave me out of it."
"You and I, Marley, we stopped being just about Kirkland a long time ago. We both knew we were playing a game, until we both knew that we weren't."
"Whatever," she dismissed. "Go peddle your snake-oil somewhere else."
"You don't believe me? You just gave up custody of Kirkland, and I am still ready to take you down to city hall and get married on the spot. Try me. I dare you."
"So that we can go on a honeymoon to some isolated tropical island?"
That was a mighty odd response. "Sure. If that's what you'd like..."
"Where I can fall asleep one night and wake up committed to a mental hospital, my sanity called into question going as far back as oh, let's pick a random date out of a hat my decision to sign Kirkland over to Jamie? Cut it out, Grant. I'm on to you."
"I'm being sincere."
"I know. Your nostrils are flaring. Like a prize stud horse."
"Stop trying to make us into a joke."
"Oh, we are way past the trying part."
Grant grabbed Marley's head between his hands, cutting her off with a kiss of such urgency, she would have been knocked back on her heels, if he hadn't at the same time latched on to her equally tightly. His palms slid down her neck, over her shoulders and past her arms. Grant's fingers snapped the top button of her skirt, his free hand dipping below the waistband, stroking Marley until she could do nothing more than gasp and press against him, even as she swore, "Screw you, Grant."
"You got it."
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