Felicia didn't call Cass as promised until the next morning, and, once she did, her tone was surprisingly chipper considering the information she had to relay. "Lucas won't budge. He claims revealing where he got the information on Donna could be dangerous for all of us."
Cass exhaled. "He's probably right." And didn't add that, really, it was about what he'd expected from Lucas.
"I'm not ready to surrender, yet," Felicia insisted. "I had a thought about another tack I could take with this. I'm off to give it a try right now. Sit tight."
"No," Cass swallowed hard and told her, "I still intend to turn myself in this morning. Frankie and I are just waiting for the girls to wake up, so we can say good-bye."
"Don't do it," Felicia pleaded. "At least not yet. Give me a few hours to "
"It doesn't matter. Whatever information you might dig up about Donna, Lucas and Carl, it won't help me. I killed Cecile, no one else. I'm the one who needs to pay for it."
"It could have been a conspiracy," Felicia insisted stubbornly. "It's obvious to me, with the way Lucas is acting not to mention the fact that Carl is involved, that something much more is going on here than just you accidentally committing murder. Cecile's death could have been part of a much larger plot. For all you know, you were just the fall guy. You can't turn yourself in, Cass, until we know everything."
"Drugging Cecile was my idea. Nobody talked or tricked me into it."
"If they'd tricked you into it, you wouldn't know it, would you?" Felicia challenged. And Cass made a mental note never again to argue with someone who conjured up intricate intrigues for a living. "Let me try and help you," she begged.
"I appreciate what you're trying to do. But, I'm sorry, my mind is made up."
Her voice cracked. "What am I going to do without you?"
He tried his best to go for the joke. "Look at the bright side: You'll always know where to reach me now...."
"Amanda, my dear, what a lovely surprise," Spencer looked up from the desk in his home office as the housekeeper announced his former daughter-in-law. He stood up to walk around, take both her hands in his and kiss Amanda briefly on the cheek. "It's been too long. Thanksgiving, I think, might have been the last time I saw you."
"It's been a pretty insane six months," she apologized.
"Of course, of course. Between Jamie and Kirkland and I heard about Allie and her child. Hard to believe that the little girl doing cartwheels through the living room..."
"They grow up fast," Amanda sighed. "Too fast."
"Please, come in, sit down." Spencer gestured for Amanda to take a chair and pulled up the one across from her. "While it's always lovely to get a visit from you, I have to presume there was something in particular you wanted to talk about?"
"There is," she confessed. Spencer smiled expectantly, the smile fading rather briskly when Amanda told him, "It's about Alice Frame."
"Alice sent you to speak to me?" Amanda couldn't tell if that was irritation in his voice or... hope.
"No. I came on my own. Alice and I had lunch the other day, and she told me, at great length, how sorry she feels about what happened with the two of you."
"I'm a little lost as to how exactly that's your concern, Amanda."
"It isn't," she admitted without a trace of guilt over taking the initiative and making it so. "But I know that you refused to listen when she tried to tell you as much. I thought you might give it a better chance coming from me."
"Then I'm afraid you've wasted your time. Now, if that's all you "
"She loves you," Amanda said.
"I doubt that very much."
"You shouldn't." Despite Spencer standing, body language all but flashing for her to leave, Amanda remained where she was, continuing as if he hadn't yet disagreed with her. "Alice doesn't lie. She's an incredible woman. She has this way of making people feel like she believes you can be the person you've always wanted to be."
"Yes," Spencer smiled wistfully. "That she does."
"And you've got so much of that kind of thing already you can just afford to throw away someone like that?" Amanda asked innocently.
Cass and Frankie expected Charlie in the morning to be exactly the same Charlie they'd dealt with the night before furious, bitter, sullen and hostile.
Which was why both were stunned when she sailed down the stairs in a seemingly sunny mood, gulped down a glass of orange juice, grabbed an apple and chirped, "See you later! We're going on an end of year picnic at school, got to be there early!"
"Charlie," Frankie began gently, confused and more than a little disturbed. "Your dad "
"Signed the permission slip last week, we're all good."
"We thought you might want to stay and say "
"Sorry, can't. See, there's this thing, well, this guy, he kind of likes me, but, personally, I could so care less. Usually, if Kirkland is around, I can kind of hide behind him, you know? But, he's out of town with his dad some friend, huh? Never there when you need him so I'm on my own, which means I've got to get to school early or, I swear, this guy, he'll fix it somehow, nobody can figure out how he does it, he just does so that the only seat left on the bus is next to him. Gross, right? I gotta motor!"
"Charlotte," Cass didn't raise his voice, but his tone effectively cauterized Charlie mid-ramble. "Believe me, I am not insensitive to how difficult this is for you or why you are acting this way. But, please understand, you are not getting out of this house without saying a proper good-bye to me."
"I won't," Charlie crossed her arms. "I won't say it."
"Oh, honey," Frankie appeared poised to descend into sympathy, when Cass cut her off.
"Fine," he told Charlie. "Then you just stand there, and I'll say good-bye to you."
"No," she attempted to blow by him and out the door.
Cass grabbed Charlie by the shoulder, wrestling her still. "Yes."
She struggled, then, realizing that he meant what he said, gave up, and simply stared into space over Cass' head, lips pursed, nostrils flaring, red blotches appearing on her cheeks. But she didn't cry. At least, Charlie told herself, she didn't cry.
His voice soft, Cass told Charlie, "I was thinking about when it was just the two of us. Your mom was gone, Lila and I weren't together yet. I'd drive you to day-care every morning. Well, I'd try to drive you to day-care. Somehow, more often than not, you'd find a way to divert me. It started with the usual, fake coughs, mystery stomachaches, fleeting fevers. But then you got more sophisticated. You started asking me questions: Where did the river end? How did food get to the supermarket? Was there somebody in charge of running the traffic lights? I tried to answer the best I could, but you wouldn't let up, until finally either I got so curious I wanted to find out too, or it was just easier to show you than argue with you about it. So next thing I knew, there we were, off on another field trip, forget day-care. Or work, for that matter. Those were some of the best days of my life, Charlie. I know you thought you were getting one over on me, but, I got to tell you now, you're old enough to hear it Answering your questions was just an excuse. I looked forward to our hooky days as much as you did. Because I couldn't bear the thought of being separated from you, even for a minute. That's exactly how I feel now. I don't want to leave you. I don't want to leave your mother or Lori Ann or our life together. But, I've run out of excuses."
"I hate you."
"I know," he nodded his head thoughtfully, as if her response was the most reasonable one possible under the circumstances. "But I love you so much that I don't mind."
"If we're going to live in the same town, we're going to need to set some ground-rules."
"Good morning, Kevin," Alice looked up from her desk as he barged through without knocking. "Please do come in."
"Rule #1: You want to take pot-shots at me, you be my guest. But leave Jenny out of it."
"Funny, Jennifer didn't seem nearly as annoyed by my existence as you did. Or do."
"As a matter of fact, you upset her quite a bit."
"I'm sorry to hear that. It wasn't my intention."
"What was your intention the other day, exactly? Simply humiliating me in front of my daughter and Mike? Getting back at both him and me for my emancipation years ago?"
"Probably a little of both," Alice admitted to Kevin's shock. "I realize that, in your experience and, admittedly, Mike's, too I tend to merely sit back and swallow whatever affront is levied my way with a frozen smile and dangerously raised blood-pressure. I am trying to get out of that particular habit in my old age. How would you assess the experiment is going?"
Her frankness brought Kevin up short and prompted an honest reply. "I'd say you're taking to it like a duck to water."
Alice laughed. "I know. Even I'm surprised by how much I'm enjoying it. I only wish someone had told me earlier that good manners at the expense of your sanity aren't quite what they're cracked up to be."
Kevin ventured. "I heard stories, from Amanda, about what her mother did to you."
"Rachel didn't do anything to me that I couldn't have put an end to, with just a little more horse sense and a little less concern about what other people thought."
"That's the main thing I've tried to teach Jenny," he offered. "Not to give a damn what other people think. She's a brilliant girl, no ifs, ands or buts about it. From the day I took responsibility for her, I've worried about what a hard road she might have ahead of her. If she lets other people sway her from who she could be it's what happened to her birth mother, I hear... I promised her grandmother I wouldn't let that happen."
"In that case, at least Jennifer's grandmother should have no complaints where you're concerned." Kevin chuckled appreciatively at Alice's pointed turn of phrase as she went on, "Jen seems to be a lovely girl. Some part of that must be due to you."
He shook his head. "Nope. She was like that when I got there. My modus operandi is to stay out of her way whenever possible. Mostly because I live in terror of screwing up of screwing her up. She's all I've got."
"What about Ms. Hart?" Alice wondered idly.
That seemed to shock Kevin out of whatever rapport they'd briefly established and back into mistrustful mode. "What do you know about Lila?"
"Only what Amanda's told me."
"Right. I forgot. You two are friends."
"Does that bother you?"
"I don't know," Alice said innocently. "I thought perhaps it might be Ground Rule #2...."
Rachel waited until Felicia had finished relaying everything she'd come over to say before clarifying, "How can you be certain that Lucas' information on Donna and the kidnapping came from Carl?"
"Lucas told me."
Rachel hesitated, hand-picking her words with great care. "Lucas and Carl... they're not exactly the best of friends. Especially now that the truth about Jenna's parentage... Isn't it possible that Lucas might be deliberately casting aspersions on Carl as a way to...."
"Carl revealed his connection to Lorna, too. He admitted giving Lucas the incriminating file so Lucas could frame Donna with it."
"Lorna?" Rachel managed to inject so much implication into a simple, two-syllable name that it prompted Felicia to briefly digress.
She asked, "Were you aware that Lorna and Jamie..."
"Yes," Rachel sighed. "I found out about it in a bit of an... abrupt manner, but, yes, I do know they're currently... together."
"Does that make any sense to you at all?" Felicia wondered, mother to mother.
"No," Rachel was happy to reply, and even more happy to spy the agreement on Felicia's face.
"They are so utterly and completely different."
"Jamie is much, much too conventional for Lorna."
"And Lorna is much too explosive for Jamie."
Rachel shrugged. "I guess they'll figure it out for themselves sooner or later. Let them have their fun for now, I suppose."
"Right. If there is one thing you and I absolutely shirk from it's meddling in our grown children's lives."
"You know," Rachel observed. "I hear there are some parents who actually do that. And on more than one occasion, too."
"I can't even imagine it," Felicia said.
They smiled in brief camaraderie at each other, before both remembered why Felicia had actually come by, and what was, in fact, at stake.
"You want me to find out from Carl where he got the file to give Lucas," Rachel double-checked even as, deep down, the answer was obvious... and highly troubling.
"I want you to do more than that. I want you to convince him to use the information to put that woman away for good. It's the least he owes Jenna, don't you think?"
"I'd ask how you were," Lucas informed Lorna as they settled on either side of the table inside the prison's Visitors Room. "But I'm afraid if you smiled any more broadly your face might crack open."
Lorna forcefully arranged her features into a more appropriately somber expression and told him sincerely, "I'm worried about you. I miss you. I hate it that you're in here."
"Me too," Lucas agreed pleasantly. "But since the choice was either me or Jamie "
"Carl's name should have been on that ballot."
"We are not discussing Carl."
"Have you at least considered telling the District Attorney that he was the one who "
"I have no evidence. And my pointing the finger at Carl is the last thing I want when I'm locked up in here and powerless to protect you or your mother."
"Felicia and I can take care of ourselves."
Lucas smiled at her fondly. "You two are so damn alike."
"What does that mean?"
"Nothing. Just that I'm a very lucky man."
"Oh, yeah," Lorna looked around. "You're drowning in rabbits' feet here."
"One day you'll have kids, and you'll understand."
"And wouldn't you like to be around to see them? Maybe I could "
"Listen to me, Lorna. There is nothing you can do for me. There is nothing I want you to do for me, and there is definitely no need for you to go around thinking that you should be doing something for me," he emphasized the latter, speaking to the guilt he knew she nursed. "This is my mess and I'll clean it up. The best way for you to help me is by being happy. And staying out of trouble."
"Which means staying away from Carl!" Lucas thundered. "Otherwise, you are going to make things worse than they already are."
"What's worse than you being in jail?"
Lucas only had to give Lorna a look for her to get the picture. Her throat went dry. "Dad... What's really going on here?"
"The less you know, the better."
"Oh, please. Don't you give me that. After everything you've trusted me with over the years...."
"You have no idea how much I regret that. Look at what it's done to yours and Felicia's relationship."
"Sure. That's why you had to put on that show for me during my arraignment."
"Felicia and I had problems before we knew we were mother and daughter, we had problems after we knew we were mother and daughter, and we had problems before you came back. They've got nothing to do with you."
"Fine, so maybe she blames me for you being in here. But you know what would fix that? Me getting you out. Which means going to Carl and "
"Lorna," Lucas warned, rising from the table at the same time as she did. "Don't you even think about "
But his daughter was already out the door, striding purposefully down the police station hall only to skid to a halt at the sight of her mother standing next to Frankie, both of them watching fretfully as Cass, sitting in a chair across from Chase Hamilton and a very serious looking stenographer inside a side interrogation room, confessed to Cecile's murder.
John stood by his sleeping son's bedside, methodically going through Gregory's chart and noting down the morning's information from the monitors, doing his best to pretend that this was just another patient, and that John was objectively surveying his condition, nothing more.
The illusion lasted only as long as he could focus exclusively on the hand-scribbled data in front of him. Because the moment John accidentally glanced up and caught a glimpse of his son's inert face, he felt his gut wrench and recoil. John's knees buckled and he was forced to collapse into a nearby chair, dropping his head into hands and taking deep, desperate breaths to keep from blacking out completely.
His shoulders shook, battling the dry heaves attempting to double him over onto the floor. He didn't hear the door open or notice anyone coming in, until he felt the tentative woman's hand resting gently on the back of his neck.
"What are you doing here?" John didn't need to look up in order to recognize who it was. "I thought we agreed you should stay out of sight for a while."
"I was worried about you," Donna said. "How's Gregory?"
"Dying," John spat out, realizing it was the first time he'd admitted so out loud, as shocked to hear the words as if he'd just learned the prognosis anew. "My son is dying."
"Isn't there anything you can do?"
"There's one thing," John admitted, although it too made his stomach churn. "That drug that was used to kill Cecile and wipe Frankie's memory, it was actually developed as a treatment for all kinds of brain cancers. The FDA won't approve it in the States, because of the side effects... but, when it works, it works. The patients who responded to it have demonstrated remarkable results. There have even been a few cases of full remission."
"Are you thinking of..."
"What choice do I have?" John demanded.
"You'd be breaking the law."
He actually smiled. "Are you lecturing me about breaking the law?"
"I'm a lost cause," Donna said simply, uncharacteristically devoid of self-pity. "But you're a good man, John."
"Does a good man stand by and allow his only child to die without doing anything and everything in his power to save him?"
"But, you said it yourself, the side effects..."
"Death? The worst of the side effects is death, Donna. That's already inevitable in this case. We have nothing to lose."
Donna rested her chin lightly atop John's head, wrapping both arms around his shoulders, understanding that there was truly no comfort she could offer him, but resolved to try, in any case. John closed his eyes and, for just a moment, leaned back against her.
Neither one of them noticed that Gregory was awake now. And that he'd heard every word.
|Receive email notification every time www.anotherworldtoday.com is updated|