"Fine," Marley held out her hand, gritting her teeth and hating herself as she did so. "I'll take your money. But, only for GQ's sake."
"And Perry's," he prompted.
"And Perry's," Marley conceded. Then, softening in the face of what appeared to be Carl's genuine suffering how often did that come down the pike, after all? added, "He loved you, you know. Perry really did. I know you had your problems but... "
"He's the only child life granted me the privilege of raising to adulthood," Carl sighed. "And still, I believe he was fonder of Donna than he ever was of me."
"Well, she had the easy part; sweep in, play the glamorous, doting stepmother, give him a kiss, write him a check, wave as his plane took off for boarding school. I can honestly say that Donna treated Perry exactly the same way she treated me... and she was my mother."
Carl said, "You know, I never held with the way Donna treated you while you were growing up, even before I knew that she was your mother. And, to be honest, I'm not too entranced with her subsequent behavior, either."
"Okay, Carl, that's enough. Warm, bonding moment over. Take your phony concern and move along, nothing to see here, we've got work to do."
"No," he refused calmly. "Not until I've said my piece. Do you know what drove me over here this afternoon?"
"The chance to ruin Grant's campaign? Even if I haven't figured out quite how yet."
"Rachel and I had a... difference of opinion regarding the issues of fathers rights and whether all men who claim their disputed children are doing it from a need to fluff their own egos rather than true concern for the child's well-being?"
"Let me guess: You were pro, Rachel con?"
"A child has a right to know the truth about their origins. A privilege Donna only ceded you under duress."
"Ancient history, Carl."
"And I suspect I know why."
"We all know why. Reginald "
"Was presumed dead whilst you were still in diapers; what say we decline to cover that well-trod ground again? Reginald had nothing to do with her disavowal of you. It was jealousy, pure and simple."
"Sorry for calling you in over nothing," Morgan apologized to Jamie as they walked down the hospital corridor. "In retrospect, it was an obvious lab error, but "
"Always good to have a second pair of eyes. I'd have done the exact same thing."
"I just hate bothering you. I know you've got a lot going on. The situation with Steven, sharing custody of Kirkland, new house, new... "
"Yeah," Morgan grinned, utterly unselfconscious. "It's got to be a hell of an adjustment, especially with her being so Lorna and you being so... you."
"I think I'm keeping up just fine, thanks for your concern. At least, I haven't heard any complaints from Lorna. And we both know she's not really one to keep quiet."
"You got me there; Lorna can be quite vocal."
Jamie paused by the elevator, reluctantly turning to face Morgan. "Do you really want to do this, Winthrop? Have a pissing match smack in the middle of the hospital?"
"Hey, hey," Morgan held up both hands and took a step back. "I'm not doing anything. Lorna and I dated a long time ago."
"Not that long," Jamie corrected. "She told me about you two hooking up again after she'd left Bay City."
"She did?" Morgan's eyes widened. "Wow. That's a surprise. I thought we'd kind of taken a vow of silence around that entire misguided episode."
"Yeah, well, she let me into the circle of trust."
"Is that a fact? You know, Jamie, far be it for me to get between a.... But, there are a lot of layers to Lorna that "
"Okay, I'm going to leave now."
"Wait," Morgan pulled Jamie back, forcing the elevator to depart without him. "I'm sorry, that was a real dick move on my part. I apologize. I was just caught off guard, that's all. Fact is, Lorna was the one determined to keep things hush-hush; prevent Felicia from ordering wedding invitations and some kind of veil for her with a hat. Lorna and Felicia, they can get a little combative discussing hats. It's very odd. Not that Lorna and I would ever do anything as fancy as what Felicia would organize anyway. Quick zip to city hall. That's how we did it."
"Would've done it," Morgan corrected without missing a beat. "If we'd stayed together, which we obviously didn't since she's now with you."
"And is that going to be a problem?"
"Not at all. Well, not for me, anyway. Felicia would probably be upset to learn how close she came to realizing her dream of having me for a son-in-law... But, if Lorna is happy, I'm happy. Mazel tov!"
"You know, in my experience, people usually prefer for their exes to end up with jerks."
"Well, I'm not a typical ex," Morgan smiled cryptically. "I want Lorna to end up with the man she deserves. Which, according to her, is you."
"I certainly aim to be."
"Then you make sure to aim high," Morgan directed before giving Jamie a punch in the arm, just a little too hard to be considered playful. "You got that?"
"Wow," Steven watched Jen on the treadmill at the campus gym. "I've never seen anyone actually run faster than the machine before."
"I'm trying to break the space/time continuum," she huffed, brushing damp bangs out of her face.
"Wow," Steven repeated, deadpan. "I've never seen anyone actually run faster than the machine before."
Jen smirked and hit the stop button, bending over, hands on her knees, taking deep breaths. "Not far enough," she gasped. "I was hoping to go back at least to a year ago."
"Hi," he said. "I'm Steven Frame. I'll be auditing your class. I'm much smarter than you are."
At that, she actually laughed. "Ah, the good old days...."
"How's GQ doing?" he followed her to the drinking fountain, then waited as Jen did her cool-down stretches against the adjacent wall.
"He's made up his mind. He's going to sue the Bauers to get Hudson back. It was on TV earlier, so it must be true."
"Damn it, Allie really screwed everybody over, didn't she? She's the one who started all this, and now she's the only one who's going to get away scott-free."
"Sure seems like it," Jen agreed.
"Of course, Sarah thinks Allie was just confused, didn't know what she was doing. She says I should be more understanding, walk a mile in her shoes, all that bullshit."
Jen paused and then, unsure of what prompted her to say it, only sure that she was right, noted, "Sounds like you've already walked a mile in Hudson's shoes. I get that right?"
He blinked. "I Yeah. Kind of. How did you.... "
She turned her arm carelessly so Steven could see the cluster of burn scars on the inside of her wrist. "How did you know these weren't just birth-marks?"
"That That's just simple observation and, you know, not being an idiot."
"Right back at you," she smiled. "Or, to appropriate another cliche: Takes one to know one. So. How'd your folks screw you up?"
"My mom... she had a little trouble with telling the truth when it came to her kids and their fathers." Steven shook his head, determined to get off the subject and fast. "How are you handing it? GQ wanting to play dad and all?"
"I understand it. I just can't quite... condone it. I'm not saying he wouldn't be a good dad, but that's not the point. Hudson already has a dad. And a mom. And a room, and a house and a routine and a life. GQ wants to sweep in and take it away from him. I know what that's like. It sucks, frankly."
"Did you tell him that?"
"Oh, yeah. I'm shy and retiring that way."
"And are you two still... "
"I think so. I want to be with him. I care about him. I just don't..."
"Agree with him."
"What about you and Sarah?"
Steven sighed and, like Jen earlier, hid behind the effortlessness of a cliche. "Right back at you."
"I'm sorry, what?" Marley didn't know whether to laugh out loud or go with a more ladylike, vaguely bemused expression. "Donna was jealous? Of who?"
"Why, of you, of course. There you were, young, beautiful, a daughter any mother would have been proud to claim as her own. Except that to Donna, you were merely a reminder of her own multitude of romantic failures. Why do you think she never wanted to see you happy and with a family of your own?"
"What are you talking about?" Marley demanded, no longer kidding around, her voice rising shrilly in spite of herself.
"Has Donna ever approved of a single relationship of yours? Why, we can return all the way back to the aforementioned Ben "
"Donna didn't like Ben because his family was working class, not because "
"And what about Jake? The lengths she went to, to keep you away from him!"
"Donna and Jake is a complicated... mess. But, it had nothing to do with her not wanting to see me happy."
"What about Jamie, then?" Carl asked provocatively.
"Jamie? Jamie is the least of... Donna actually liked Jamie! Believe me, whatever insurmountable problems he and I had were most definitely not caused by Donna."
"She discouraged you from pursuing potential fertility treatments all those years ago."
"So, in your mind, that equals her jealously not wanting to see me happy?"
"And what about this last time? If it weren't for Donna, the two of you might have finally made it work. You were married, after all, raising children together...."
"And except for the fact that Jamie didn't love me, everything was hunky-dory."
"Unless I'm mistaken, he only arrived at that conclusion after Lorna entered his life. And that was a direct result of Donna and her machinations."
"This is a stretch, Carl, even for you. I understand you hate my mother. I understand that you would very much like for me to hate her, too. And, granted, I'm not predominantly thrilled with her at the moment. Then again, that's only made me cranky, not blind."
"I wonder...." Carl began, then shrugged and turned to leave. "Thank you for hearing me out, Marley. I'm glad we were able to reach an understanding."
"Oh, what?" Marley called after him. "Come on now, Carl, don't be shy. You clearly have more to say. Might as well get it all out in one swoop, save you a return trip."
Carl smiled, avuncular. "I do understand why you'd mistrust me."
"Yeah, it's not exactly a stumper."
"On the other hand, merely because the message comes from me, that doesn't make it wrong." He was quoting Rachel from before, but Marley didn't need to know that. "The fact is, considering how matters have unfolded previously between Donna and the men in your life, I, for one, would be wary of her latest... involvement." He gestured toward the back of the room, where Donna and Grant still sat, heads together, plotting world or at least local domination, seemingly oblivious to anyone but each other.
"Oh, come on, Carl!" Marley had to laugh at his implication. "Are you serious?"
He shrugged. "All I know is, your mother has hated Grant for going on two decades now. Suddenly her life's goal is to see him elected mayor of her beloved Bay City?"
"Donna has her reasons."
"I'm certain she does."
"And they're not... Don't be ridiculous. Donna has never had any interest in Grant."
"No," he agreed. "Not until he took up with you...."
"What exactly gave you the right to attack my daughter?" Amanda demanded after pushing her way into Matt's office at C-Squared.
"Cue the indignant, protective mother," Matt sighed as he casually clicked his mouse while perusing a file on the computer screen. "Who tattled? Allie? Mom?"
"Are you proud of yourself? A grown man bullying a kid!"
"Your adult daughter is capable of taking care of herself, even if it means screwing over a lot of other people in the process."
"At least my daughter didn't sacrifice her child to protect her worthless nip/tucked ass. How is Donna doing these days, Matthew?"
"I have no idea," he admitted calmly. "We're not in touch."
"Which leaves you plenty of time for sticking your nose and unsolicited opinions into private family business that, frankly, has nothing to do with you."
"As I informed your daughter, Allie made it my and everyone else's business when she stuttered out the truth at Gregory's funeral. If she didn't want the heat, she should've kept her mouth shut and continued living the lie. "
"But she didn't, because when it came to her child's health, she spoke up to protect him."
"That's your interpretation of events. Mine is a little less... naive."
"Is this what Donna did to you? Drained away your compassion, left you this bitter twisted shell of a human being? Allie's your niece!"
"Which makes Hudson my great-nephew. Him, I've got plenty of compassion for. GQ, too. There's no excuse for what Allie did. Being hormonal or confused or having a distracted, self-involved, over-compensating, neglectful mother just doesn't cut it."
"What is going on with you, Matt? Why would you how can you say that to me? We've always had each other's backs. We've always understood each other. Or, at least, we've tried to."
"I do understand you, Amanda. Allie, too. That's exactly why I can say what I said."
"You smug, arrogant, condescending prick."
"Yup. See? You get me, too."
"You cook, you clean," Lorna observed as Kirkland cut the power to the vacuum cleaner and began wrapping the cord around the base. "You're the best roommate I've ever had."
"That's what I was shooting for," he offered Lorna an awkward smile. "I'm sorry about going overboard with the whole omelet bar thing earlier. I just wanted to do something nice, say thanks for letting me move in and everything. But, I guess I went too far."
"No, no," Lorna furiously shook her head, despite the ensuing dizziness. "It was great."
"You turned green. I saw you. Guess having fried bacon and raw onions thrown at them first thing in the morning isn't everybody's idea of a good time."
"I'm more of an espresso and yogurt kind of girl," Lorna conceded, even as the thought of either made her wonder where she'd left the Saltines.
"I can live with that," Kirkland shrugged, moving over to start unpacking a box of books, piling them on his shelf.
"You know, you don't need to be making all this extra effort. I'm the one who should be kissing your butt, making you breakfast, cleaning your room and giving you cash to like me. This is your family I'm joining. Or trying to, anyway."
"Oh, you're in already, don't sweat it. You've got Dad's vote. And mine. And I have Steven's proxy, so he votes you in as well."
"You're making it sound easy. Too easy."
"You like my dad, my dad likes you, I think you're cool, and you haven't tried to send me away to boarding school, yet. What's hard about it? Unless," he turned to Lorna, suddenly all business. "Are you planning on screwing over my dad anytime soon?"
"I'd sooner eat broken glass."
"That's pretty hardcore."
"I'm pretty hardcore when it comes to people I care about."
"Then we're cool." He went back to the books, Lorna moving over to help him, noting, "The Great Gatsby?"
"Yeah. Junior Year Required. You ever read it?"
"When I was sixteen, my required reading list was a little... different. Less Fitzgerald, more Sun Tzu and Machiavelli. It's a shame," Lorna skimmed the back cover. "Sounds like I would have related."
"Where is everybody?" Jamie called from downstairs.
"Up here!" Kirkland answered in a yell loud enough to wake the dead and/or pop Lorna's eardrums. She made a mental note: Get used to the decibel level of teenage boys.
"Hey," Jamie popped his head into Kirkland's room, letting out an approving whistle. "Nice work, guys."
"Now all it needs is a bedroom set, a wet bar, and a surround-sound set-up for my HD flat screen television," Kirkland listed dreamily as he dragged the vacuum cleaner out of the room, giving Lorna the opportunity to pounce privately on Jamie.
"What did Morgan want?"
"A consult," Jamie answered, a bit taken aback by Lorna's aggressive questioning. "And, oh, yeah, to flex his jealous, ex-boyfriend muscle."
"Why? What did he say? And what do his puny muscles have to do with anything?"
"Nothing. Just teasing me about how different you and I are like that's a news flash and how Felicia would've loved to have him for a son-in-law. Followed by something about you and your mother and hats..."
"He said what?"
"He was just trying to bust my balls, Lorna. It's to be expected. Guys who let amazing women get away inevitably hate themselves for allowing it to happen. And they especially hate the next guy their ex ends up with."
"It was a mutual break-up. We agreed that we make better friends than.... He has no reason to hate you."
"I'd hate me if I were him, especially if I blew not one but two shots at a life with you. I know what he's missing. If I ever lost you "
Lorna placed a finger over Jamie's lips. "You will never lose me. Are you listening? Ever. Now, I'd kiss you, but since this is Kirkland's room and he's currently hovering in the doorway with his hand over his eyes, I'll leave you two to start working on putting together that bedroom set."
"Thank you," Kirkland said, peeking through his fingers.
Leaving the two of them to their male-bonding, Lorna ducked downstairs to the safety of her office, whipping out her cell phone, dialing, and demanding, "What the hell are you doing, Morgan?"
"Eating a burrito," he answered literally.
"Calling Jamie in on some bogus consult just to play stupid mind games "
"It wasn't a bogus consult, Lorna. I happen to be a professional."
"A professional pain in my ass!"
"Is that any way to talk to your husband?"
"Morgan, I swear, if you "
"Look, okay, you got me, I was killing two birds with one stone; decided to kick the tires on your old jalopy, see if you were lining yourself up to buy a lemon."
"Then I'm sure you figured out from your test drive that Jamie is a solid, decent car."
"Eh, I think I need to take him for another spin."
Lorna nearly snapped the phone in half. "Another spin? Morgan, you know Jamie is a good guy. That was our deal, remember? As long as I was with a good guy, you'd cut me loose. So just drop the bull, stop stressing me out and "
"The question isn't if Jamie is a good guy. It's whether he's the good guy for you. Which I'm still not totally convinced of. And until I am, Mrs. Winthrop, you will be getting no divorce from me."
"With all due respect," Lila slammed the door of Rachel's art studio behind her. "Your daughter is insufferable."
Her former mother-in-law looked up calmly from the block of clay she'd been kneading and clarified, "Amanda or Elizabeth?"
"In this case: Amanda."
Rachel nodded, unsurprised, and continued on with her work, figuring Lila had stormed in specifically to tell her something, and would commence doing so without any undue prompting.
"I get that some of it isn't her fault," she promptly proceeded. "Amanda's life experience is downright limited compared to normal folk. Although you'd think, editing a big-time magazine, she'd have at least read up on how the real world works outside Cory walls, even if she wasn't particularly interested."
"Kevin?" Rachel guessed, focusing on the work, determined to stay calm and cool and, most importantly, neutral.
"Does Amanda honestly think that announcing she wants something is all she needs to do to get it? I mean, there's spoiled, and there's downright delusional. No offense, Rachel," Lila back-tracked, realizing that calling the daughter spoiled and sheltered (and a little dim) could be interpreted as an attack on the mother, as well.
"Offense taken," Rachel said. "But, not at you. At myself. You're right. Amanda was is spoiled. It would be easy for me to blame her father, she could rarely do any wrong in Mac's eyes and his previous attempt at raising a daughter, well, that's a story for another time.... But, at some point, I have to accept that many of Amanda's less than positive traits have to be at least in part my responsibility, too." Abandoning objectivity, Rachel turned to face Lila. "What did she do that's got you so upset?"
"She slept with Kevin. And then she rubbed my nose in it."
"I I'm sorry," Rachel stammered, lost for what else might be appropriate. "Especially that you had to find out this way."
"Oh, no. Don't you worry about that. Kevin filled me in first."
"How very... open of him?"
Lila smirked. "Yeah, that's it, open, that's the word. He claimed it was a mistake. Said he was sorry."
"Do you believe him?"
"Oh, sure, I believe he's sorry. All men are sorry, soon as they get caught."
"Alright, then, I'll rephrase the question: Do you forgive him?"
"It sure would piss Amanda off, wouldn't it?"
"It would," Rachel agreed. "Not certain if that's the best reason to... but, I am sure it would."
"Trouble is, I seem to have misplaced my knack for being all petty and vindictive. Not that there wasn't a time... But what sort of example would it set for Jasmine now? Bad enough I got to work double so she doesn't grow up here like..." Lila felt herself getting dangerously off-track again and swiftly changed course. "And I definitely never had the skills for pimping out my kid just to snag a man. Well, I guess from where Matt was standing, it may have seemed like... but, no, not like Amanda, not like this."
"What are you talking about?" Now Lila had Rachel's complete attention whether Lila wanted it or not. Whether she'd intended it or not. Whether Lila even knew the real answer to that last one herself. She could tell Rachel about Amanda sacrificing Allie to protect Kevin's grandmother - and let Rachel deal with it as she saw fit. "What is it that you think Amanda is doing to Allie?"
|Receive email notification every time www.anotherworldtoday.com is updated|