"You and Lorna have been married for six years..." Felicia could only repeat in numb shock as she snuck her umpteenth peak at the marriage license Morgan held in his lap, before turning back towards the road.
"Yeah..." He shifted awkwardly in the passenger seat.
"Why? I don't understand. Why would you two..."
"It wasn't exactly a conventional marriage."
"I picked up on that part," she reassured him drolly.
"But, I do love her. I have for a long time. You need to believe me."
"I believe it," Felicia said. "I watched you in that waiting room. I saw your face when Abel talked about Lorna possibly never waking up..."
"That won't happen," Morgan reassured. "She's going to get better. I'll see to it."
"Why didn't you tell anyone? Me? Cass?"
"Because. Lorna and I, we've already tanked a ton of relationships. We didn't really have much faith that this one would end any differently. It's one thing to fail in private. But, to do it publicly... Especially considering how close you and Cass are. Neither one of us wanted to risk a lifetime of awkward social encounters with everyone watching us, wondering what we were going to do, playing matchmaker..."
"I'm sure I don't know what you mean," Felicia dismissed airily, with a rueful smile. And then, she switched gears to ask, "So where does Jamie fit into all of this?"
"He was... is... a fling. I'm not going to lie to you; Lorna and I'd both had more than our share over the past six years. But, in the end, we always ended up coming back to the other, even if it was just to lick our wounds and seek reassurance that somebody did love us, after all, despite the multitude of reasons not to. I presumed no, I expected, Jamie to be no different."
"Was he?" Felicia asked gently.
"Lorna said... Lorna thought... Come on, Felicia, it's Jamie! You know as well as I do that he and Lorna are absolutely wrong for each other."
"I know what I think. I know what you think. But, what did Lorna think?" Felicia repeated, more firmly this time.
Morgan stared out the window, rubbing his thumb in a circle along the glass, trying to wipe the resultant smudge away with his elbow, to no effect. Finally, voice cracking, he confessed, "It's all my fault, Felicia."
"The reason Lorna was in the car with me the other night, the reason she's in the hospital now, it's because she'd come to ask me for a divorce. So that she could be with Jamie."
"I see," Felicia said, her voice betraying no emotion.
"I was being a prick about it. I tried to talk her out If I'd just done as she asked, she wouldn't be... she'd be okay." Morgan turned, grabbing Felicia's wrist with his good arm and swearing, "I'm going to make it up to her. She's going to pull through this. But, you have to listen to me: Jamie isn't thinking clearly. He's always been an overly cautious doctor. To be honest, it's very frustrating to work with him in general. In this case, his judgment is severely compromised. He wants to play wait-and-see, but Lorna just doesn't have that kind of time. She has to be treated aggressively, the sooner the better. And that means some potent medication, in even more potent dosages."
"Is, for all intents and purposes, as good as dead. And a second-trimester miscarriage down the line will be much, much more stressful for Lorna's system than a simple abortion right now. You heard Abel. She's getting weaker and weaker. We let this go too far and it will be too late for the medication, too late for any kind of treatment."
"I can't lose another child," Felicia murmured.
"You won't," he promised.
"Lorna and I have been having such a hard time lately. Well, harder than usual. And that's saying something. There are so many things I still need to tell her... I can't have her thinking..." Felicia wiped away tears with the back of one hand.
"She still has a very good chance of recovery. But, only if we act now. Let me take the lead on this. Medically speaking."
"Is in no shape to be making any kinds of decisions. You noticed it yourself; he's barely budged an inch from the time I brought Lorna in. Well," Morgan rubbed his jaw. "With one notable exception. Jamie is in shock, which he has every right to be. His entire life just got flipped upside-down. And this," Morgan indicated the marriage license. "Isn't going to make things any easier. Jamie can barely keep himself together currently. He can't be expected or trusted to be looking out for anyone else. Lorna has been lying to him for months. And you expect him to be objective about what's best for her? Trust me. Please. I won't let Lorna down. I won't let either of you down."
"She said Gregory was... happy?" John, his back to Sharlene, continued chopping wood as if he intended to heat the entire town this coming winter. Or, at the very least, coat it in sawdust. The logs in front of him split into two, then four, then into pieces too small too count, or be of any use. And still, he kept going. Unable to stop. Unable to actually devote himself fully to what she was telling him.
"That's what Alice claimed. She said Gregory had made his decision, and he was at peace with it. That he was content. And that he knew exactly what he was doing."
"I thought about talking to her." John wiped the sweat off his forehead with the back of his denim sleeve. "But, in the end, I didn't know what I would say. Or what she could say that would change anything. Gregory is still dead."
"Because of her."
"Because of us," John said softly. "Because we drove him away."
"Stop it. Stop it, John! Not you, too!"
"We have to take some responsibility for this." Finally, he dropped the axe. Finally, John knew what he needed to say. "At some point, we are going to have to face the fact that our son preferred to die surrounded by his friends, instead of with us. And that we must accept at least a portion of the blame for that."
"What did we ever do?" Sharlene demanded. "What did we ever do to Gregory that was so horrible, it warranted him treating us like that? Dismissing us as if we didn't matter? As if we were not the ones who would go on mourning him for the rest of our lives, as opposed to that underage Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight, who've probably forgotten him already?"
"We refused to listen to him."
"That was for his own good. If we'd given up on Gregory when he was first diagnosed, he'd never have lived long enough to meet his precious Allie. Or graduate high school, or compete at the Junior Olympics in fencing. Do you remember how proud he was to finish, what was it? Eighth?"
"Ninth," John recalled with a slight smile.
"Ninth. It might as well have been gold, the way he was grinning ear to ear for the rest of the day, do you remember? None of that would have been possible if we hadn't fought for him once. He'd have died at eleven years old. He hated the treatments then. He used to beg me to make them stop. It killed me. It ripped my heart out. I'd hold his head while he spent hours vomiting and shaking. And when he finally fell asleep, exhausted, or just too weak to cry anymore, I used to go into my room next door and practically peel the skin off my arms from digging my nails into them so hard. He detested me then. But, he was grateful to us later. Why was this time any different?"
"Because he wasn't a child anymore. He was a man."
"A man," Sharlene scoffed. "Getting tricked by that ninny Allie into believing he'd gotten her pregnant, that's no man. That's a boy. A silly, love-struck, little boy."
"You know that's not how it happened."
"She muddled his thinking. If it weren't for her "
"If it weren't for her, our son would have died without ever knowing what it felt like to be in love, or to be loved in return. Is that really what you wanted for him?"
"If she loved him so damn much, she'd have convinced him to fight."
"He didn't want to. Not if it meant forgetting her."
"The way that I forgot him?" Sharlene asked so abruptly, she stunned herself as much as John. Her words shook them both so deeply that, for a moment, they could do nothing more than stare at each other, allowing every single implication to sink in. Sharlene mused, "Losing your memory wasn't a theoretical for him, was it? Not like it would be for most people. Gregory knew exactly what happened when you forgot who you were. You didn't just lose yourself. You effectively erased everything you'd ever been a part of. Including the people you loved. Who'd loved you."
"I I don't know if that ever... He never said.... I don't know, Sharlene."
"He didn't want to face the treatments again. The pain, the side-effects. But, the thing that terrified him the most, was losing his memory. Because then it would be as if he and Allie had never existed."
John didn't know what to say. Didn't know what he could say. Didn't know what she needed him to say.
"My son had a front-row seat to what it felt like to watch a person die while they were still alive. What it did to you. What it did to him. That's what he was running away from, wasn't it?"
"I don't know," John repeated.
"I didn't think this Hell could get any worse," Sharlene bobbed her head up and down maniacally, then shook it for good measure. "I was wrong."
"Persecuting people in their own homes, now, are you, Hamilton?" Kevin shook his head with exaggerated dismay as he settled beside Lila on an upholstered couch in the Cory library. "You're the type of lawyer who gives the rest of us a bad name."
"Given the rumors presently circulating the grapevine, I feel confident that you are well ahead of me in that regard, Mr. Fowler."
"Anyone who listens to courtroom gossip "
"Hears the good stuff, first."
Lila spoke up. "I hate to interrupt your delightful, legal banter, but care to fill me in on why you're here, Mr. Hamilton?"
Chase sighed, putting on an excellent charade of sincere regret as he lay out, "I want to talk about the night of the election, Ms. Hart. And the damaged town car that you failed to report to the police, then had secretly repaired and returned to the rental agency."
"How did you find out?" she began before Kevin had the chance to shush her.
"Wow," Chase couldn't help but laugh at the immediate look of recrimination on Lila's face. "I didn't expect you to slip up that easily."
"It wasn't a slip," she defended, ignoring Kevin's signal to, for Pete's sake, be quiet. "I was always intending to come forward, to go to the police, tell them what happened and about what I did. Only "
"You stopped to get your hair done first so you'd look nice in your mug-shot?"
"I wanted to talk it over with... "
"You can say the name," Chase chuckled.
"Whose name?" Lila countered hotly, determined not to fall into another trap.
"Have it your way. Let's table the mysterious co-conspirator whose name rhymes with 'pant' and get back to the issue at hand. Tell me about the car and what you did."
"I'm sorry," Kevin managed to interject before Lila could incriminate herself further. "There's no stenographer present. You didn't bring a police officer with you to take notes and you are enjoying a nice assortment of cookies with your tea. You told Ms. Hart that you were here in an unofficial capacity. Which means Lila doesn't have to say a damned word to you."
"Would you prefer I call Detective Chiang? I bet he'd love to come inside for some tea and cookies, and then record every syllable Ms. Hart says in order to accommodate your desire for a more official feel. Or, we can go to the police station "
"Oh, good grief, I saw the car was banged up, had it fixed, and returned it to the agency."
Kevin threw his hands up in the air, much to Hamilton's amusement.
The D.A. followed up, "Do you know who was driving the car that night?"
"I know who the car was assigned to. However, when I questioned her, she denied taking the car. She caught a ride with someone else."
"I'll need their name."
"Name, number, address, and email," Lila promptly scribbled upon the index card Chase handed her.
"And it was your idea to have the car repaired?"
"Don't answer that," Kevin directed Lila. "What's this really about, Hamilton? You cannot be here to rap Lila over the knuckles for such a low level offense."
"I can when it happens the same night as the hit and run involving Lorna Devon and Morgan Winthrop."
"Do you have proof that this town car is connected to that accident?"
"Working on it. The BCPD's lab techs are going over it as we speak."
"Well, until you have something more than your usual arrogant presumptions "
Lila cut him off. "No, Kevin, I have nothing to hide. I don't want to make my original mistake any worse by dancing around in front of Mr. Hamilton, looking all guilty." Lila turned to Chase. "Yes, it was my idea to get the car fixed. I offered to do it since the cars were my responsibility and I'd obviously messed up."
"And then you compounded your adorable oopsie by committing an out and out crime," Chase shook his head. "Is there anyone who can vouch for your whereabouts the night of the accident?"
"A room full of campaign workers and aides."
"Can account for every single minute? You never stepped out to powder your nose, even?"
"That's enough," Kevin sliced. "Unless you have actual evidence connecting that town car to the hit and run, you have no need to interrogate Lila any further."
"I can still arrest her for failure to report an accident, fraud, and a few other things."
"Mr. Hamilton," Lila forced down the lump in her throat. "I realize I made an error in judgment, and believe me, I "
"I'm going to stop you right there, Ms. Hart. You already have a champion who has pleaded to me on your behalf."
"I do? Who?"
"Your co-conspirator. Or rather your, what's the meme of the moment? Your BFF," he explained to Lila, with a quick look of off-the-record gratitude to Kevin. "I'm going to have a daughter soon. I figure I should catch up on the lingo."
"Grant?" Kevin clarified. "Grant ratted out Lila?"
"Ratted is such an ugly word," Chase shuddered. "We chose to view it as Grant honoring the oath he took as an officer of the court and coming forward to tell the truth. He also pleaded with me to offer Ms. Hart every consideration. Hence the informal home visit by yours truly, instead of a public invitation to join Detective Chiang down at the station."
"I.e. Grant ratted her out."
"More or less. But can you blame him? If he had become involved in Ms. Hart's cover-up, he would be an accessory, as well. And I imagine Mr. Harrison would like to avoid any possibility of returning to prison. I'm not surprised he wasted no time knocking on my door as soon as he learned from Ms. Hart the truth about the rental car."
"He came to you as soon as he learned the truth?" Lila clarified, Chase nodding in affirmation.
"What is it, Lila?" Kevin prodded.
"Nothing," she shook her head, even as Lila's bewilderment flared into a choking anger at the realization that something was wrong, that things weren't adding up. That her to paraphrase Chase BFF's actions didn't match his words. And that Grant had a lot of explaining to do...
Jamie stood up when Morgan and Felicia returned to the ICU waiting area. His eyes narrowed on the sheet of paper in Morgan's hand as, for the first time, Jamie got the sinking, terrifying feeling that maybe, just maybe Morgan wasn't bluffing, after all.
Lucas looked from Morgan to Felicia, who came over and slipped her fingers through his, peering up at Lucas as if asking for support... and forgiveness in advance.
Morgan caught Abel's eye through the glass and beckoned for the doctor to come out. Abel did, glancing questioningly from Jamie to Morgan.
For a moment, no one spoke. And then, bracing himself for whatever the reaction might be, Morgan stretched forward the document to Abel. He did it right in front of Jamie, too, so that he could have every chance to see for himself.
Morgan wondered if Jamie might grab the license out of his hand. If he would push Morgan back or hit him again or... who knows?
But, Jamie did nothing. He simply followed the path of the paper from Morgan's hand to Abel's. He watched Abel read it.
And then he listened as Morgan, his voice shaking nervously, reiterated, "As you can see, this document qualifies me to make all of Ms. Devon's medical decisions. Following your earlier recommendation, I'd like you to schedule her abortion. As soon as possible."
"Are you threatening me, Carl?" Donna asked with what he continued to believe was a touch of validated relief.
"I was being a gentleman. Though I can infer how living in the woods amongst the braying livestock with Dr. Hudson might have dulled your recognition of the genus."
"So, this is it? This is the best the mighty Carl Hutchins can do? Death by Sarcasm?"
"Would you prefer I slit your throat and deposited you in the waters of our Bay for your fellow creatures of the deep to feast on?" Carl asked conversationally.
"A low level mobster execution? How prosaic of you."
"You believe you warrant something more?"
"I managed to dupe you for years," she reminded sadistically. "Your own child was living right under your nose, you spoke to her on a multitude of occasions you gave her your share of D&M! And you never knew, never so much as suspected. I made you look like a clueless fool. Why, I bet half the city is still laughing about it behind your back."
"Alright then. If you're so fraught for me to concoct an elaborate theoretical punishment for you, why don't we turn our attention to the question of: What would your father, dear Reginald, have done?"
As expected, the mere mention of the Love patriarch managed to shake Donna more than any blatant threat or even act of Carl's ever could.
"If history is to be followed," Carl mused. "He'd lock you alone in a room. For days... weeks... months on end? Of course, I wouldn't wish to be derivative. I'd strive to up the ante. Perhaps the room should be equipped with a mechanism for sucking out the air, so that you might slowly suffocate not unlike the sensation our daughter endured during her final days on Earth only for me to revive you at the very last moment, and force you to suffer the entire experience over and over and over again until I became... bored."
"Now you're thinking," Donna praised.
"Nonetheless," Carl shook his head regretfully. "It's missing something. I feel certain I am capable of better, of making your life and death so much more agonizing. Goodness me, I'm honestly at a loss. It's been some time since I've been challenged so."
"Domestication by Rachel has made you lose your edge. Why, you've become nothing but an impotent, withered old man who spends his days reciting poetry while his wife combs the snarls out of his hair."
"By George, I do believe I've got it!" Carl grinned broadly, baring his teeth. "A misery worthy of you, Donna! It just came to me! What serendipitous luck!"
"Chance favors the prepared mind," Donna quoted Louis Pasteur and prompted, "Well, don't leave me in suspense. I'm all ears."
"I'd rather not," he drawled. "I fear that if I were to let the cat out of the bag, so to speak, you well might faint dead away. And then, what if you were to hit your freshly shrunk skull on an inflexible surface? Such expiration would be most unsatisfying to me. I simply cannot risk it." He leveled his gaze on Donna, fun and games suddenly at an end. "You were right to be terrified of me. You were wrong in not being terrified enough."
"Finally," she exhaled in sheer triumph, knowing that despite what he might think, Donna had achieved her objective and won. "The real Carl Hutchins has made his grand entrance. Is he, at long last, ready to come out and play?"
"You got a pencil, Ms. Cory?" the voice on the phone got right to the point.
"Shoot," Amanda assured the Brava reporter she'd sicced on tracking down the identity of Alice's anonymous informer.
"I don't have a name for you," he apologized, "But, the BCPD switchboard did catch the number the call came in from."
"Ready?" he rattled off a series of digits. "Ms. Cory? Ms. Cory, are you still there?"
"I'm here," she told him absently, while, with her pencil, Amanda drew a box and a huge question mark around the main phone number of the Cory mansion.
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