"Wait." Jamie thrust out his arm to stop Abel, shoving aside the marriage license he'd been holding so that it fluttered back into Morgan's hands. "Just wait one second. Before anyone does anything that can't be undone "
"There's no time," Felicia pleaded, exasperated.
"There's no time to weigh the decision of killing Lorna's child? Because that's what you and Morgan want to do. Kill her child. Shouldn't we give the matter a little more than a couple hours thought and discussion?"
Morgan shook his head. "There's nothing to discuss, Jamie. The OR will be available first thing tomorrow morning. You heard what Abel said. This is Lorna's only chance."
"It is not. You aren't giving her a chance to fight this. It is not unusual for patients with Lorna's type of injury to take a while to stabilize. She just needs some more time."
Felicia gritted her teeth. "We've given her time and she hasn't gotten any better!"
"The longer she stays like this," Morgan explained as if Jamie hadn't earned his own medical degree. "The longer her brain is subject to damage. Irreversible damage that could kill her or leave her in a vegetative state for the rest of her life. We can't wait."
"So then there are drug protocols "
"Any drugs we'd use, in doses Lorna would need, would harm the baby. If they didn't cause a spontaneous abortion outright, there's the risk of birth defects down the line."
Felicia spoke up. "Morgan said Lorna was planning to abort this child anyway."
"Morgan lied!" Jamie bellowed. "Ask anyone who was in the ER when she was first brought in. Lorna refused to have any tests run or X-rays, until she was reassured that the baby was all right. Does that sound like someone on her way to an abortion?
"She panicked," Morgan rebutted calmly, purposely contrasting his emotional state versus Jamie's. "She realized she was caught, and told you what you wanted to hear."
"Oh, for Christ's sake, Morgan, pick a lie and stick with it, would you? Better yet, don't. Man up and admit that aborting this child my child, not yours, no matter how many legal papers you shove in my face is your decision. Don't assign blame to a woman who isn't even conscious and can't defend herself. You're supposed to be Lorna's friend. You're supposed to support what you know she'd want you to do. Instead you're trying to take away the one thing she wants most. If anyone can pull herself out of this through sheer force of will, it would be Lorna. Believe in her, like I do."
"I believe in my daughter," Felicia asserted. "But I also know that she can't do this alone. We have to help her. Dr. Marsh said the baby is compromising her health."
"Lorna's health was compromised by some SOB running a light and Morgan's lack of defensive driving skills," Jamie corrected. "Listen, Felicia, I understand that my medical expertise is mud as far as you're concerned after what happened with Jenna. Fine. I accept that. But, this hospital is full of doctors without an emotional stake in Lorna's case. Before you do anything, get a second opinion, I'm begging you."
"I did," she pointed out. "Morgan agrees with Dr. Marsh. Meanwhile, look at yourself, Jamie. How can you say that your emotions aren't clouding your judgment?"
Jamie was caught between laughing in disbelief and roaring in Felicia's face. "You think I'm emotionally compromised? How about her husband, Morgan? He was driving the car that got hit. You don't think his emotions are influencing his actions whatsoever?"
"Morgan's focus is aimed at saving my daughter. Yours is split between protecting Lorna and her baby."
"Does anyone besides me see the absurdity of this argument?" Jamie looked to Lucas and Abel for help. "I'm too emotionally involved to vet Lorna's handling, but Morgan isn't?"
"It doesn't matter," Morgan said. "The law is on my side."
"So you don't care that, even if we go ahead with the abortion, there's still no guarantee of Lorna recovering?"
"Of course there's no guarantee. I never claimed there was. All I agreed with Abel about was that it would place her in a better position, physically, to fight."
"And what about the emotional and psychological toll?" Jamie continued, aiming his argument directly towards Lucas now, the only person in the room who still appeared in need of convincing regarding The Gospel According to Morgan. "Comatose patients can often hear what's happening around them. They know what's going on. What do you think it will do to Lorna, to be aware of the fact that she's lost her child? To lie there, feeling powerless to stop it? And to know that it was her mother and her best friend who did this to her? Would you want to wake up after something like that?"
"You're grasping at straws," Morgan dismissed.
"The fact is, none of us can presume to know what Lorna would want right now," Felicia concurred. "How well could you have known her, Jamie, if you weren't even aware that my daughter was pregnant? And married to somebody else?"
"Neither did you," he shot back. "So I guess that means your opinion should be discounted as well."
"I'm her mother," Felicia stepped up to Jamie, who didn't flinch. "You can find another bed partner. I've already lost one daughter. I'll be damned if I'll lose another because of you!"
"Do you really think when Lorna wakes up and realizes what happened to her child," he bore down on Felicia and Morgan. "That she'll ever forgive either one of you?"
"At least she'll be alive to hate us," Felicia decreed. "That's all that matters."
"I would've hoped after the last," Marley looked up from nibbling Grant's ear to check the clock on her nightstand. "Sixteen hours, you'd have ample reason to face the day with a smile on your face."
"I do," Grant flashed Marley her command performance grin. "I have you in my arms."
"And your bed," Marley pulled back to rise and reposition herself astride Grant's hips. "And yet somehow I don't seem to have your full attention."
"Not due to any lack of desire on my part," Grant defended, hands fumbling along Marley's thighs in an attempt to accomplish what the rest of him could not. "I just need a little more recovery time. Happens to the best of us eventually, I'm afraid."
"You're thinking," Marley scolded, tightening her legs around Grant's hips as she lowered herself to kiss him again. "Whatever happened to following your own advice?"
"And which might that be?" he winced as Marley bit down hard on his lip. "I give my opinion on so many things so freely."
"Quote: Stop brooding over the past, Marley, and look to the future... while enjoying the present."
"That happens to be precisely what I am currently doing."
"And yet I still don't have your full attention," Marley huffed, rolling off Grant to glare. "Has something happened?" She sat up, alert, when he remained silent. "Is there something you're not telling me about Lorna? Has she..." Marley couldn't quite bring herself to articulate the very worst possible finale.
Grant shook his head. "Last I heard, Lorna's condition was no better, no worse."
"Then what is it? We're a team in this, remember? Equal partners? What affects you, affects me. Obviously, something is troubling you. So tell me what it is."
"I had to do something, something I'm not proud of. It involves Lila. Not in that way," Grant quickly reassured Marley upon seeing the look on her face, all the while wishing his latest sin really was that simple. "I... I told you how Lila found the car. The one "
"I know which one. You also said she had it repaired and returned to the rental agency. Did they not accept it? Are they asking questions?"
"No. But Lila was. When she heard about Lorna's accident Lila became... concerned."
"Concerned," Marley repeated flatly. "You mean suspicious."
"She insisted on going to the police and coming clean about everything."
"But you talked her out of it? Tell me you talked her out of it, Grant."
"I beat her to the punch. I went to Chase and..." he struggled with the words. "I gave her up. I sicced the D.A. on Lila, and played innocent regarding her subterfuge."
"Did it work?"
"Don't know. I just wish I'd had more time to think of something else. Something where Lila didn't end up looking guilty..."
Marley cut him off. "But, she is guilty. She was the one who initially volunteered to have the car repaired in secret, you didn't ask her to do that."
"I meant to," he reminded. "I actually meant to manipulate her into thinking it was all her idea."
"Well, she saved you the trouble. Which proves Lila isn't exactly lily-white in all this. And if she then decided to go to the police, what else were you supposed to do but protect yourself? Lila wants to face the music? Let her. That was her call, not yours."
Somewhat taken aback by Marley's if he did say so himself cold-blooded assessment, Grant stammered, "You're right. I know you're right. That's exactly how I would have rationalized it, too, if... But... I... It's only... Having a friend was kind of a new thing for me. I was just getting comfortable with the concept."
Marley turned Grant's regretful face to hers. "I'm sorry you had to do this and I'm sorry Lila may be hurt as a result. But, Grant, you're not the only one who's recently gotten used to some new concepts. I've never had a man go to lengths like these for me. I don't know how to thank you except to say... thank you. Thank you for looking out for me, thank you for looking out for the girls. For our family."
Grant startled at her words. "Our... family?"
"That's what we are. You, me, Kirkland, Bridget, Michele. It's finally all coming together. We can't risk losing it now. Not for anything. Not for anyone."
Unwilling to be away from Lorna any longer than absolutely necessary, Jamie left Morgan, Felicia and Lucas in ICU and escaped briefly to his office. He punched in Mike Bauer's number in Washington DC and lay out the situation.
"I don't want to go to court," he pleaded. "But, they've left me with no choice. I've got to stop them from doing this to her."
"Tomorrow morning?" Mike let out a low whistle. "I'm sorry, Jamie, there is nothing I can do for you from here on such short notice. I don't know the lay of the land in Bay City. It's been too long. I would need a couple of days just to figure out where to start." He hesitated before making the following suggestion, knowing of the bad blood between them. "Maybe you should consider asking Kevin. This is more his specialty than mine, family law. He'd sooner know a friendly judge or whatever else might fly under these circumstances."
"You okay?" Steven and Jen asked each other in near-unison as a red-faced, sniffling Allie stomped off, leaving the two of them standing in the cold and encroaching darkness.
They both smiled weakly at the less than convincing, "Yeah, sure," "Fine," that followed.
Steven offered, "You want a cup of coffee or something?"
"I thought you had a class."
He shrugged. "Academia is overrated," this time prompting a genuine smile from Jen.
"Yeah," she fell into step with him, walking towards the campus pub. "That describes you and I to a T."
"Actually," he admitted, helping Jen off with her coat and pulling out a chair for her. "I'm not a big fan of school. I prefer learning stuff by myself. Most of my programming is pretty much self-taught."
"So why the PhD?"
"People need a piece of paper that testifies that you're capable of showing up on time for a pre-determined period of years, and regurgitating the ideas of others. With footnotes. Oops," Steven grinned mischievously, accepting the two cups of coffee brought to them by a waitress. "Sorry, Professor Fowler."
Jen sighed, un-offended and accepted the cup he handed her. "I love school. I love knowing where I need to be, what I'm scheduled to accomplish within a given block of time, what's expected of me..."
"And that you're better at it than absolutely everyone else around you."
"That part," Jen took a sip. "Is nice, too."
Steven proffered, "What Allie said upset you. I could tell."
Jen shrugged. "Nothing I haven't heard before. And she leveled the same charges at you. Your rebuttal kicked mine's ass."
"Practice," Steven dismissed.
"Allie has every reason to attack me. I'm dating the guy that she's still in love with; we've all pretty much figured that out. But, you two are were close. More brother and sister than cousins."
"That's why she thinks she's allowed to pick on me."
"This went beyond a sibling squabble."
"Not really. Whenever Kirk wants to hit me below the belt, he goes for the Tin Man comparison, too. I.e. Steven's got no heart. That's why Sarah... She made me think that maybe I wasn't...." He waved a hand, erasing the rest of the thought. "Sarah was full of it."
"When I was younger," Jen confessed, stirring her coffee. "I used to think the reason I felt so different from everybody else was external. I mean, there aren't a lot of girls who look like me at Brearley. Or Yale. Or MIT. But, after a while, I realized I couldn't use that excuse. I wasn't different because of who I was on the outside. I was different because of who I am on the inside. I think sometimes that's why I went into Cognitive Science. I was looking for that missing piece that everyone else got, and I didn't."
"I don't know," Steven studied her appreciatively up and down. "You look pretty well put together to me."
"The whole time I was going off on Allie, I meant every word. What she did to GQ was unconscionable, and Hudson... no matter how this custody thing ends, she's sliced a scar into that boy nothing's going to be able to erase, even under the best circumstances. I get that, certainly better than Allie does, better than GQ even. But, here's something I never told anybody: If GQ does end up raising Hudson, I don't... I have no interest in being a part of it. At least not now. Not at this point in my life. I can't drop everything heck, I don't want to drop anything to play even part-time stepmother. I care about GQ a lot. Being with him makes me feel like so much less of a freak than usual. But, I'm afraid he's expecting me to jump in and... And I don't really know how to tell him otherwise."
"Feeling better?" Kevin asked Lila as she finished off the last glass of red wine from the bottle they'd split with dinner up in his hotel room.
"Getting there," she told him, her hostile posture suggesting otherwise. She stared regretfully at the empty glass, reluctant to put it down.
"Would you like something else?" Kevin offered. "We can go out. Or we can stay in. Do you... Would you like to stay the night?"
She cocked her head at him, not nearly as drunk as she was pretending to be in order to note, "That's an unprecedented offer."
"You've spend the night before," he defended.
"Upon which occasion you had me up and out at dawn's early light."
"That's because I promised Grant I'd pick up Kirkland before school that day."
"Uh-ha. Playing chauffeur again tomorrow?"
"Then why the invite?"
"You don't seem like you want to be alone. Something is clearly bothering you."
"I just got interrogated about the possibility of my being a hit and run driver."
"It's more than that," he observed lightly, leaving no room for argument. "But, I'm not going to push. You'll tell me when you feel like telling me. I just figured you might enjoy a brief reprieve from your troubles. Unless you've got to rush home to Jasmine."
"Jasmine's hosting a sleepover with Michele and Bridget. She'll be delighted to have me out from under foot."
"In that case, I'd like you to stay."
"Even with a big ol' felony subpoena hanging over my head."
"Especially in light of it."
Lila laughed. "What's that? Some kind of kinky, lawyer turn-on?"
"You were married to a lawyer for a decade," he reminded.
"Yeah, but his turn-ons started and stopped with Universe-embracing redheads."
"I know Cass broke your heart," Kevin ventured tentatively. "Same way Amanda broke mine, though, no, by no means am I comparing my relationship of a few months to yours of over ten years. But, the fact is, we both went into this gun-shy. And while we've been having a good time until I blew it, that is that's all it's been. A good time. The reason it's felt so... wispy, is because it is wispy. We've been all surface. You make me laugh, I make you smile I hope. It's been fun. The minute things stop being fun, though.... I turned to Amanda when I found out about Alice being involved in Gregory death because it never crossed my mind to turn to you. Because it wasn't the kind of fun, glib, amusing frivolity that we'd share with each other. Because it wasn't fun. And I'm sorry about that. Not just due to the hurt I caused, but because I think, unless we start sharing those non-fun aspects of our lives, the real nitty-gritty, the life part of life, as it were, then this relationship has no hope of going anywhere interesting or meaningful or... real."
"That's why you want me to stay? So we can depress the hell out of each other?"
"In a matter of speaking."
She thought about it for a moment. "Now, that just might be one of the nicest invites I've been offered in a good, long spell."
He smiled. "It doesn't all have to be endless night of the soul plumbing. We can order up another bottle of wine, get comfortable..."
"Any clue which vintage goes best with soul-plumbing?"
"Something French, I'd imagine," Kevin was reaching for the room service menu when his phone rang. He snuck a peak at the display, brow furrowing when he saw who was on the line. "Would you excuse me for just a second?" Kevin flicked open the receiver. "Jamie? What can I do for you?"
At the sound of her former brother-in-law's name, Lila's head snapped up, her as yet unplumbed soul suddenly sober. She sent up a speed of light prayer that Lorna hadn't taken a turn for the worse and not just because of what that could mean regarding Lila's potential legal charges, either.
Kevin listened for a moment, then, all business, asked, "When's the procedure scheduled for?...Crap, Jamie, that doesn't give us a lot of time." He squinted and rubbed the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger, as if trying to massage his brain into thinking faster. "Okay, here's what we're going to do. There are a couple of judges I can think of who might give this a quick, off-the-record listen. Whether or not I can get them on the phone at this hour.... It might have to be first thing tomorrow morning, at least to get the papers drawn up. I could e-mail them to your phone... Your office fax, then... Well, fine, I'll deliver them myself, but you've got to buy us at least an extra hour or so. Stall." Kevin hung up and looked at Lila apologetically. "Rain-check?"
"Don't worry about it. I know a can't-wait emergency when I hear one." She hesitantly asked, "Lorna's no better, is she?"
"No," Kevin shook his head regretfully.
"You go take care of whatever it is Jamie needs. I got some business I've been avoiding. Might as well bite the bullet. Before the wine wears off."
Sharlene asked Frankie to accompany her to Gregory's grave. She went every week just to talk, she said. But, it was getting harder and harder, she confessed, to throw words into the empty air. Frankie was happy to make whatever minor contribution she could. And, because she couldn't bear to leave her for too long right now, Frankie brought Lori Ann to the cemetery with her.
The little girl seemed delighted with the sunset bouncing off the polished headstones, as well as the colorful selection of flowers Sharlene allowed her to pull a few petals off of before reverentially placing the bouquet under the chiseled inscription: Gregory John Hudson 1991-2010. Sleep on now, and take your rest. Matthew 26:45
Seeing the epitaph for the first time, Frankie noted, "That's nice. Your idea?"
"Donna's actually, if you can believe it. I'm amazed her tongue didn't catch fire quoting a bible verse. But, she suggested it to John and he told me and.... Gregory fought so long and so hard, Frankie. If anyone deserves to rest in peace...."
"I think that's the first time I've heard you acknowledge how hard he did fight. Until he just couldn't do it anymore."
Sharlene didn't respond one way or another, kneeling instead by the grave, removing an old, dried up garland, mindlessly crushing the desiccated leaves.
Blowing on Lori Ann's hands and rubbing them together to keep warm, Frankie ventured to her aunt, "I owe you an apology."
That seemed to grab Sharlene's attention.
When she declined to do more than continue looking at her with interest, Frankie went on, "Here I've spent months lecturing "
"I wouldn't say lecturing, exactly."
"Alright, hectoring, then. I've spent months hectoring you about refusing to let Gregory go due to your own reasons, instead of considering what's really best for him. And now I'm doing the exact same thing."
"Dean and Lori Ann," Sharlene guessed.
Frankie nodded. "Cass thinks she'll be better off with him than with us."
"What do you think?"
"I think that if I have to give up one more thing I love, there won't be anything left of me."
"That does sound pretty selfish," Sharlene agreed. "Also pretty familiar."
"What are we going to do?" her niece pleaded. "How in the world can we fix this?"
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