"So, I'll see you at the wedding, then?" Amanda flashed a brilliant smile Lila's way as they crossed in the second floor Cory hall the morning of Alice and Spencer's nuptials. "You are going with Kevin, right? Him being your man, and all?"
"Actually," Lila's smile was no less brilliant. A toothpaste commercial featuring the Osmonds rarely boasted so much sparkle. "I was obliged to turn down Kevin's invitation to be his escort for the occasion."
"Oh. So, can I infer then that... "
"Infer whatever you darn like. Fact is, it's Jasmine's twelfth birthday today. Remember, Jasmine? Your niece? You being so notoriously devoted to family."
"I remembered Jasmine's birthday," Amanda defended stiffly. "My gift is downstairs, waiting for her. Along with Grant's, Kirkland's, Steven, Jamie, Lorna... Frankie and Charlie sent something, too. I think there's even a card from Cass, and another from Iris. Jasmine is important to all of us."
"Well, that's nice of you," Lila grudgingly admitted, willing to swallow any humiliation for her baby's happiness. "But, in any case, Matt, Jasmine and I are spending the day together, just the three of us. I asked her if she wanted a big party, but she chose this. I guess it's been a while since it was just the three of us, and she's missed it."
"Have a good time," Amanda chirped gaily. "Don't let Matt go off on her like he did with Allie. Picking on children seems to be his favorite pastime these days."
"Only ones who deserve it," Lila reassured.
"And I'll do my best to fill in with Kevin for you."
"No need. Seems he's tried it already. Wasn't particularly impressed."
"You're unusually quiet," Lorna observed to Jamie as he sat, shoulders hunched, over the steering wheel on their way to Alice and Spencer's wedding.
"I'm okay," he dismissed without taking his eyes off the road.
"I wasn't suggesting otherwise," Lorna soothed, passenger side window rolled down, the fresh air helping keep nausea at bay for the moment. "On the other hand, the expression on your face does imply "
"I am not," he stressed. "Wearing my Furtive Frame Face (Trademark Pending). This happens to be my 'Goody! I'm going to Alice and Spencer's wedding!' face."
Lorna laughed and observed, "And yet, there is a definite resemblance to the 'Frame Face of Worry'. With a side-order of 'Frame Face of Hesitance'."
"You've categorized my facial expressions? How many have you logged so far?"
"Let me check my BlackBerry. I've been keeping a running file. With pictures."
"Don't worry, they aren't all bad. There's a generous selection under 'Happy Frame Faces.' My personal favorite is 'Blissful Frame Face.' Care to guess on what occasion it makes its appearance?"
"Please tell me you don't have a picture of that," Jamie alternately blushed and laughed.
"I do not. I'm afraid I'm usually "
"Always too preoccupied at that exact moment to reach for my cell-phone." Lorna took Jamie's free hand and squeezed it reassuringly. "Spencer will be good to her."
"How can you be sure?"
"He's old. It just wouldn't be smart of Spencer to go around treating people like crap so close to his looming Pearly Gates appointment. And a guy like Spencer, he always plays the odds. At this stage of the game, he's got to be in serious atonement mode. Though I can't imagine what he could ultimately do to make up for siring Grant."
"If you look at it from a Star Wars point of view, it's not the man but his progeny that's the true legacy. And Spencer and Grant couldn't ask for a better legacy than Kirkland."
"That's thanks to you, not them. Don't give either Spencer or Grant any undue credit."
"Work with me, Lorna. I'm doing my best to convince myself not to bust into the bridal suite and tell Alice that she's making a huge mistake marrying a man who once dated Iris, of all people, while simultaneously flirting with my mother."
"So, do it then. Alice would listen to you, you know she would."
"I've played the loud-mouthed, overbearing, inflexible, judgmental, his-heart-is-in-the-right-place-but-it's-really-none-of-his-business role before. It did not end well."
"Paulina and Jake?" Lorna hadn't really known Jamie all that well while the conflict was going on, but she'd been in town and picked up enough to recall how everything ended.
"I was relentless. No matter how many people told me to cut Jake some slack, I wouldn't back down."
"Well, given your history with him... Jake almost ended up being Steven's father. He raped Marley. "
"Yeah, well, as right as I felt I was not to let Jake or anyone else forget what he'd done which, given my own insight since then, is grossly ironic Jake was Paulina's mistake to make. It wasn't my place to so much as have an opinion, much less act on it. By forcing the issue, I drove her to choose."
"And she chose Jake."
"She loved him. And I was too angry, too stubborn, too caught up in battling it out with Jake to make her see where I was coming from. It cost me Paulina as a friend, it cost me Kelsey "
"You could do so much better than Kelsey," Lorna reassured. "Hypocritical twit..."
"My job, years with Steven, since I ended up leaving Bay City after the tape scandal..."
"Which Jake caused."
"Because I wouldn't let it go. I was obsessed with being right at the expense of all else, and I paid for it. So did my family. Never again."
"Are you scared that, if you told her how you really felt, Alice would cut you out of her life, too? She'd never do that, Jamie. Especially over Spencer."
"Well, I'm not in the mood to risk it. The only thing that matters is that Alice loves him. She believes he loves her, and she swears he makes her happy. My job this afternoon is to keep my mouth shut. And bring a nice gift."
Kirkland serving as Spencer's best man meant Marley driving over early with Grant to the banquet hall, and waiting, more or less alone, as the room began to fill up with guests while all the Harrison men were in the back, getting ready.
She said hello to Russ Matthews, wondering how much he ever knew of her attempt to adopt his granddaughter. She exchanged small talk with Josie and Gary, inquiring how Sharlene was doing, and sharing that, as far as she knew, John wasn't much better. And then she greeted Felicia, keeping her distance just in case Jenna's mother decided to get slaphappy again.
Marley offered, "I'm surprised to see you here," but then recalled, "Oh, right. You and Spencer are friends."
"I'm happy for him," Felicia said. "He's been alone for a very long time. I know what that's like."
"Grant says he's never seen his father like this," Marley divulged. "He's acting like a kid in love for this first time."
"Maybe he is," Felicia pointed out. "I met the love of my life when I was sixteen years old. But, not everyone is equally lucky."
"Oh, they can meet them. The real luck comes in keeping them. Look at my parents." The minute the words were out of her mouth, Marley wished she could snatch them back. Invoking Donna to Felicia was just asking for another belt.
She recoiled instinctively, but Felicia graciously let the faux pas pass without comment. Of course, she didn't say much of anything then, creating an awkward silence that Marley attempted to clumsily fill by pointing to the northern doors and lamely observing, "Look, Lorna and Jamie are here."
Felicia turned her head in the direction Marley indicated and watched her daughter for a moment before idly observing, "It's still a bit strange, seeing Jamie with anyone but you. If I feel that way, I can't imagine what it's like on your end."
Marley shrugged. "Jamie and I are still friends. That hasn't changed."
"Really? I would have thought, you and Grant...."
"If Jamie can share Kirkland with him, I'm certainly nothing to get worked up over."
"It's just that, if it weren't for Donna and her malevolence; I'm sorry, Marley, but there's honestly no other word for it... I can't help thinking how different everything would be. Obviously, Jenna would be alive, that's the most important thing to me. Lori Ann would have her mother, Dean would have his wife. But, also, Lorna and Jamie... who could have ever imagined such a thing? If it weren't for Donna, I doubt they'd be more than passing acquaintances. Maybe they'd have exchanged hellos at Lori Ann's christening, but that would be the extent of it."
"Yes," Marley agreed, limply. "It is funny how things work out."
"And how are the children adjusting to the changes? Lorna told me at Gregory's funeral that Kirkland was moving in with her and Jamie. That should be interesting. I never saw my daughter as the particularly maternal type, and a teenage boy! Goodness me! She doesn't know what she's in for, does she?"
"Kirkland likes Lorna," Marley said. "I'm sure it'll be fine. He's a considerate kid."
"How do Michele and Bridget feel about Grant?"
"Oh!" On firmer ground now, Marley was able to sincerely enthuse, "They like Grant a lot. He's very good with them."
"Yes," Felicia agreed cryptically. "He's always been good with women. Of all ages."
"Wow," Jen grinned as she stepped into Alice's dressing room and took in her great-grandmother's light blue, vintage Condici suit with full length skirt slit to the knees in the back, and matching pearl embroidered jacket and bodice. She handed Alice the bouquet of white roses and blue hydrangeas it had been her responsibility as maid of honor to pick up, and observed, "Mr. Harrison is a lucky man."
"I'm the lucky one," Alice beamed back at Jen, wearing a strapless, white cocktail dress with turquoise accents to match Kirkland's tie and cummerbund. Alice and Spencer had decided that it was fine, even preferable, for the attendants to look young, just as long as it didn't seem the bride and groom were trying to. "And not just because of Mr. Harrison, either. I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to have you standing up for me. And your dad sitting in the audience. A year ago, I never would have dreamed any of this remotely possible. And, initial motives be damned, I owe it all to Spencer."
"Daddy told me. I guess if there was ever a case of all's well that ends well..."
"And how are you, darling?" Alice asked, putting down the bouquet and taking both of Jen's hands in hers. "I saw your Mr. Todd's press conference the other day."
Jen shrugged. "I'm fine. We're good. GQ's here today, you can talk to him in person, though I'm sure you've got more important things on your mind than my love life."
"You know," Alice tread cautiously, not wanting to overstep her bounds, yet desperate to help any way she could; unfortunately, this was her area of expertise. "I am somewhat familiar with the scenario wherein the man you love has a child with another woman."
Jen smiled uncomfortably. "I'd heard. But, this isn't exactly the same thing. GQ and Allie were together long before I showed up. It's not like he cheated on me with her."
"I understand. But, that little boy will always be a part of their lives. And, as long as you're with GQ, he'll be a part of yours. As will his mother. That isn't easy."
"You and Dr. Frame seem to get along fine."
"That has nothing to do with Rachel, and everything to do with Jamie."
"Just know that I'm here if you need me. Advice, pep talk, shoulder to cry on, I'm here."
"I mean it, Jennifer." Alice stoked the girl's hair and, with a wry smile, couldn't help observing, "Some girls inherit looks, some inherit money. Seems like you "
"Inherited my great-grandmother's strength of character," Jen cut Alice off firmly.
"That's just what I was going to say," Alice agreed, turning back to the business at hand.
"Dean told us that you and Jamie were the ones who convinced him to come back for Lori Ann," Felicia reached out to stroke her daughter's arm as soon as she and Lucas were finally able to make their way over to Lorna through the throng of other guests.
Lorna nodded cautiously, not sure where this conversation was going, but prepared for anything. "Girl needs her dad." She smiled affectionately at Lucas, then reluctantly turned back to Felicia.
"I'm sorry," Felicia began. "About some of the things I've said to you recently. I realize now that you really did have Lori Ann's best interests at heart. I should have had more faith in you."
"Yeah," Lorna couldn't keep herself from confirming. "You should have."
"We're very proud of you," Lucas interjected quickly, attempting to change course and keep matters from escalating. He'd spoken sincerely from the heart, without particular forethought. But, the effect his words seemed to have on Lorna was extraordinary.
She asked Felicia, "Did you Did you tell him?"
Unlike Lucas, Felicia appeared to understand exactly what Lorna was referring to. She shook her head, beaming. "Nope."
"I'm sorry, I'm a little lost." Lucas looked from his wife to his daughter. "What's going on here? What am I missing?"
"There was a picture," Lorna enlightened "This picture I had. It was taken the night Dean bailed on his big concert, remember? He went running after Jenna, and I stepped in to try and calm the crowd down?"
"I remember," Lucas said. "You were fantastic. A real pro."
"Yeah, well, this picture, it was of the two of you. Felicia found it in my stuff. This was when you and I weren't... we weren't exactly..."
"I remember," Lucas repeated, more darkly this time.
"Felicia wanted to know why, if I didn't give a damn about either one of you, would I keep the picture? I wasn't going to tell her anything at first. But, you know how she can be," Lorna shot her mother a look equal parts mockery and respect.
"Yes," Lucas agreed. "I know how she can be." And smiled at Felicia, as well.
"Finally, I told her, okay, fine; I kept it because, when I looked out into the audience and saw my parents sitting there, I allowed myself to pretend, just for a minute, that they were there to see me. That they were watching me. And that they were proud," the last words were delivered barely above a whisper, with Lorna averting her head, staring into space.
Gently, Lucas turned her face back towards him. He looked into Lorna's eyes and he said, "I was proud of you that night. It was the first time I saw what Fanny had been talking about for weeks. You really were the most astounding blend of her and me. The good," he chuckled. "And the bad."
"Thanks, Dad," Lorna attempted to play his words off as if they were really no big deal.
The tears in her eyes suggested she was failing miserably.
"Your hands are shaking," Grant watched Spencer fumble for the second time with a pair of cufflinks. "Dad? Have you been drinking?"
"Maybe he's having a stroke," Kirkland proposed. In response to the looks on both Grant's and Spencer's faces, he defended, "What? He's old. Old people have strokes."
"I am not having a stroke! And I haven't been drinking," Spencer barked, flinging the studs at his son and grandson in a one-two punch of anger and frustration. "Not that I've been able to think of anything else since the day began."
"Dad!" Grant warned, while Kirkland got down on his hands and knees and dug around in the carpet for the monogrammed cufflinks, returning them without comment to his grandfather, who scowled what might have been a snarl of gratitude in return.
"Don't you want to marry Dr. Frame?" Kirkland wondered.
"Of course, I want to marry her!"
"Oh," Kirkland said, now utterly lost but, as always, amiable.
Grant tapped his son on the shoulder and gestured towards the door. "You want to give us a moment alone? Why don't you go check and see if the guests are all here yet?"
"Okay." He told Spencer. "I'll be back in a couple of minutes. Don't want to hold up the ceremony."
Another possible scowl of appreciation. Kirkland grinned at Grant, who winked in return, and closed the door behind them.
"You know," Grant gave his father one more chance, then deftly pried the cufflinks out of his shaking fingers and proceeded to fasten the sleeve ends himself. "I really believe Kirkland was honored that you asked him to be your best man."
"It seemed... symmetrical. Alice has Jennifer. And as long as Jamie didn't put up a fuss..."
"He wouldn't. If only for Alice's sake. Don't worry about Jamie. Worry about yourself, especially today."
"Why do you think I've been craving a drink so damn badly? Of course, I'm worried. And about who else but myself? What the hell did I think I was doing? I must have been out of my mind. How long do you think before she sees straight through me and regrets ever crossing my path, much less hitching her life to mine?"
"Way I heard it, Dad, Alice saw right through you from day one. And if it didn't stop her then, why should it stop her now?"
"She's come to her senses finally?" Spencer looked at Grant, practically pleading as if there was anything his son could ultimately do. "I can't afford to blunder. If I lose her, that's it, I'm done for."
"Why would you lose her?"
"Because I am who I am, and she is who she is, and, sooner likely than later, I'll do something she simply cannot abide."
"Then don't," Grant offered pleasantly.
"Oh, what do you know?" Spencer turned his back.
"I know that Alice Frame has done something no other woman has ever proven capable of. She's made you want to be a better person. She's made you want to be the Spencer Harrison you've always needed the world to believe you already were. And I know that when the Spencer Harrison you actually are puts his mind to it, he's incapable of failing."
"This isn't some ultimately meaningless business deal. This isn't a game!"
"I understand that. Same way I understand that you'll win it, in any case."
Spencer addressed his son through the mirror. "When did you become my biggest booster?"
"When my son showed me how it's done."
Spencer turned around and, much to the surprise of them both, pulled Grant into a bear hug. He tapped the side of Grant's face affectionately with an open palm, then held him at arm's length, swearing, "Once upon a time, all my dreams for you centered around wealth and power and a big, white house with a flag flying on top. Now, the only thing I can legitimately wish for you is that someday someday very soon, I hope you'll be as terrified and bewildered and overjoyed as I am."
Grant smiled, weakly. "Let's take it one day at a time. Today is yours."
Spencer caught the wistfulness in Grant's tone and couldn't help prying, "Marley... She isn't... I thought things were going well between the two of you. Certainly better than anyone could have imagined."
"She doesn't love me, Dad," Grant said, the level of self-pity unusually low, especially considering the sentiment, most especially considering the man. "I can admit it, even if she won't. Not that she's ever claimed any differently. Just that the subject is permanently off the table for us."
"Because I still have hope. Kirkland forgave me. Kirkland loves me. Someday, Marley may come around to feeling the same. I need that. I know what it makes me sound like, but... I need that validation. It's not enough that I believe I've changed. I need my biggest detractors to believe it too; make it legitimate"
"And what about her? If Marley doesn't love you, why is she here?"
"Loneliness?" he guessed, Grant's tone suggesting one answer was as good as any other. "Curiosity? Residual competition with Vicky? Spite? I don't know. On some level, I don't really care. Look at you and Alice, Dad. You two would have never met if you hadn't been looking to discredit Kevin. But, Alice was able to see past all that. That's what I want from Marley. Why she's with me isn't important. What's important is her eventually coming to believe that I can take care of her, that she can trust me, that she can love me back without hesitation."
"And if that doesn't come to pass?" Spencer pressed. "Will the status quo be enough for you?"
"No," Grant confessed with utter, genuine sincerity. "But, it will be exactly what I deserve."
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