"Come on, Sarah," GQ sounded more exhausted than threatening. "I know you at least are there. I saw you come in. And I'm pretty sure you've got Allie holed up, too. Open the door. I just want to talk."
Sarah looked to Allie, gesturing frantically for a decision regarding what to do. Allie thought about it briefly, then shrugged, indicating it was okay, Sarah should let him in.
GQ didn't appear surprised to see Allie. Or angry even. The exhaustion audible in his voice was equally clear throughout his features and posture. He entered slowly, offering Sarah a mumbled, "Thanks," before focusing exclusively on Allie.
"You okay?" he asked. "Everybody's been worried about you."
"I'm okay." She swung her legs off the bed, facing him, still sitting. "How about you?"
"Pretty rotten, actually."
"Did the judge make her "
"No. Not yet."
"So why are you here?"
"I wanted to see you. Ask you something."
GQ peered sideways at Sarah, who crossed her arms to indicate she wouldn't be budging, so he might as well forget about even asking. GQ sighed to indicate he understood. And then he asked Allie, "Why did you give Hudson away?"
She blinked, startled, as if he'd smacked her in the forehead with an open palm. "What?"
"Was it only because of me? I mean, only because I was his father? Would you have kept him if he were Gregory's or... well, anyone's? Anyone's other than mine?"
"You mean like some alien probe?"
"Be serious, Allie, please."
"I am. What do you mean, anyone's? You were the only guy I ever... You knew that. Gregory and I didn't... not until after... after you...."
"I'm sorry," GQ said. "I'm so sorry I hurt you. You didn't deserve it."
"Save it," Sarah answered for Allie, seeing that her friend was in no shape to speak for herself. "We're not in court anymore."
GQ's head snapped around. "You thought I said it just because we were in court?"
"Made you look good in front of the judge. That's all that matters, right?"
"Stay out of this," GQ warned.
"What do you want from her?" Sarah demanded. "Haven't you screwed up Allie's life enough?"
"What about what she did to me?"
"You have something to say to Allie," Sarah all but threw herself at him bodily, ushering GQ towards the door. "You have your lawyer call her lawyer. The way those two were going at in court, I bet they're dying for some more face-time with billable hours."
"It's okay," Allie sprung up, blocking Sarah from tossing GQ out. "I'm okay. He can say anything he wants to me. It doesn't matter anymore."
"Do you think we could talk without your guard-dog yapping in the background?" GQ indicated Sarah.
"Is that how you PhD boys say bitch?" Sarah wondered.
"Jesus, you're a pain," GQ growled. "No wonder Steven dumped your ass."
"Stop it!" Allie ordered, the steel in her voice reminding Sarah and GQ of the steadfast way she'd sounded while taking care of Gregory. "Just cut it out. Sarah, I'm okay. Really. And GQ fine. We can talk alone." She prompted Sarah, "Go. You don't need to stay and baby-sit me. I can manage. I can manage a lot more than anyone thinks."
"How's Lorna doing?" Amanda asked her brother once she finally tracked Jamie down to the hospital, where he was attempting to catch up on his own work while, a few floors below, Lorna went through her paces in physical therapy.
"Getting stronger every day," Jamie couldn't keep the pride or the relief out of his voice. "She's determined to walk down the aisle. Before the baby is born, to boot."
"It's so strange to think of Lorna being pregnant. Do they make maternity cat-suits?" she wondered innocently
"Can it, Amanda," Jamie warned, suppressing the flicker of a smile as he imagined the possibility. "I know your history with Lorna. Though, considering the prize was Grant, how about we call it a draw and decree you're both winners for being rid of him?"
"It's the principle of the thing," she insisted stubbornly. "And Marley obviously thinks he's enough of a prize to "
"Is this why you came over to talk to me? Because I'm pretty busy here."
"No," Amanda admitted. "I It was something else."
By the seriousness of her tone, Jamie guessed, "Allie? Her situation just gets worse and worse, doesn't it? I'm sorry, Amanda."
"Yeah, it does. But, there's nothing to do now except sit tight and wait. What the judge decides about Hudson's custody will probably determine whether or not the Bauers press charges against Allie for fraud. Right now, it's not looking good for them. Or her."
"What does Kevin think?"
"He thinks he's going to be disbarred at the end of the hearing no matter which way it goes. So he might not be available to help Allie either."
"Well, let me know what I can do."
"I will. Thanks. But, actually, Allie wasn't who I came to talk to you about, either. It's I... I spoke to Mom, earlier. She told me something I thought you should know, too."
"That doesn't sound good," Jamie sighed, finally putting down the stacks of files he'd been perusing all this time. "What is it now? Something else pop out from Carl's past that she has to make excuses about?"
"Not this time. This time, she's the one with the skeleton in the closet."
"And here I thought we knew them all. Do I need to sit down for this?"
"Only if you want to spring back up again." Amanda said, "Turns out Mom was the one who called the cops to come and arrest Alice in the middle of her wedding."
Sarah balked. "You want me to leave? You're positive?"
"Positive. Thanks for everything." Allie hugged her briefly.
"I can wait outside until you're done."
"Go," Allie repeated. The steel was back.
And with one last dirty look GQ's way, Sarah was gone.
Leaving the two of them alone. For the first time in a very long while.
"Thanks," he said.
"Whatever." Allie crossed her arms. "Say your piece."
"I " For a moment, GQ looked like he might apologize again. But, considering how well that went over the first time and the second, he changed his mind mid-sentence, and desolately reverted back to his original question. "Why did you give Hudson away?"
"Because I didn't want to be a mom. I especially didn't want to be anything like my mom. And that's what would've happened."
"So it wasn't because he was my son?"
"No," Allie insisted.
So quickly, that GQ felt compelled to follow up. "You mean, if I hadn't... treated you the way I did, and ended things the way I did "
"You mean if I'd accepted your offer to keep on being your embarrassing, little secret?"
"I said I was sorry, Allie. For everything."
"Sorry for feeling the way you do, or just sorry for telling me?"
He ignored the implication of her question. "If we hadn't broken up. If you'd gotten pregnant and we were still together, would you have given him up then?"
"I told you, this was about me, not you. I wasn't ready to raise a kid."
"I get that. I wasn't ready either then. I'm not so sure I'm ready now. But, the moment I knew he was my son, that didn't matter so much anymore."
"Okay. You're a better person than I am. Happy?"
"Are you telling me you didn't feel anything for him? Not even after he was born, and you saw "
"I saw Rick and Mindy Bauer's baby. That's it. Why won't you believe me?"
"Hudson was born under such difficult circumstances..."
"I know. I was there."
"I don't mean just the delivery."
"Yeah, that's probably because you weren't the one being ripped open."
"I mean... everything. I mean, me."
"Don't you always?"
"You never had a fair chance to really bond with Hudson. You were so afraid of being his mother, you wouldn't even allow yourself to consider the possibility of loving him."
Allie snapped, "My mom's been dying to get me in front of a head-shrinker for months now. I'll let her know you're on it. Damn it, GQ, what do I have to do to get you to leave me alone for good?"
"You want me to leave you alone?"
"Okay." He nodded thoughtfully. "Then come see Hudson with me. I'll call Rick and Mindy. Ask if we can visit tomorrow. They're supposed to let me visit whenever I ask."
"I want you to look at your son. Really look at him. I don't think you ever have. Not even at Gregory's funeral, I noticed how you kept avoiding him. Spend some time with your with our son. I promise, I'll leave you alone after that."
"Sure you're still up for your party?" Jamie asked Lorna as he pulled his car into their driveway. "That was one brutal PT session you just finished. People will understand if you decide to bail."
"It's not my party," Lorna corrected, the only sign of her tangible exhaustion being that she actually allowed Jamie to take her arm and help her up the front steps. "My birthday is just the excuse. This party is to celebrate where we were last year compared to where we are now. You're not in jail, I'm not in a coma, and neither of us is trapped at Carl's lair, even if it was only overnight."
"No," Jamie agreed, his mouth going slack upon opening the front door and finding his house bedecked with, in no particular order: a Jack O'Lantern pumpkin, a Thanksgiving Cornucopia, plastic arrow-wielding cupids, cardboard hearts and four-leaf clovers, fresh mistletoe, stockings hung by the chimney (presumably with care), a flat-screen television positioned just inside the fireplace complete with ever burning Yule log video, and even a full-sized Christmas tree. "We're trapped in a Hallmark warehouse."
"Take it up with Kirkland," Steven dismissed in a weary voice, lassoing said tree with a rope of cranberries and popcorn. "I'm just his bitch for the evening."
"You're early," Kirkland glared at his father.
"You mean there's more?" Lorna sputtered.
"The party theme is Time Warp," Kirkland lectured sternly. "All the holidays you and Dad missed while you were in the hospital, combined into one. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Valentine's "
"President's Day," Steven stabbed at the tree with miniature American flags.
Jamie reminded, "This was supposed to be a low-key celebration for Lorna's birthday."
"I know. I made her a cake and everything. The party is my present."
"It's awesome!" Lorna pulled the boy into a hug. "Thank you, Kirk. You too, Steven." Jamie's older son saluted her from his position behind the tree.
"Happy birthday, Lorna." The ringing doorbell delivered Rachel, who pecked not only her son and grandsons but, surprisingly, Lorna on the cheek, as well. "You look wonderful. So good to see you up and around again."
"Thank you..." Lorna replied cautiously, sneaking a peek at Jamie that was supposed to translate as "Who is this woman being nice to me and what have you done with your real mother?" only to spy an ambiguous expression on Jamie's own face in regards to Rachel.
"Carl, unfortunately, had some business to attend to. He sends his best regards."
"What a shame," Lorna and Jamie replied in near, equally insincere unison.
A moment later, it was Felicia and Lucas' turn to sweep in, both of them so enthusiastic, so exuberant, and so full of the faux-multiholiday spirit, that Lorna had to assume they'd had a fight on the way over in the car as a best-case scenario. And that it would be best to refrain from asking.
Of course, that failed to explain why Felicia was also keeping her distance from Rachel.
"This is adorable," Rachel commented, looking up from the five Christmas stockings hung on the mantle including a miniature, pink and black striped one. "Baby Girl Frame," Rachel read, smiling at Lorna and Jamie. "That seems a little generic. Any thoughts about names, yet?"
"Steven," Jamie beckoned his son over. "Want to field this?"
The resident computer genius sighed, explaining, "They were being totally unscientific about it. I finally had to make a spread-sheet so we could keep track properly." He pulled out his iPad from its case and connected it to the TV, killing the Yule log. "Pay attention now: Whenever someone suggests a name, it goes on the list. Click, and you get origin, meaning, nickname options, first and middle name combos, initials "
"I see Lucy's in contention," Lucas beamed as the full document flickered into view. "And Lucinda... and Lucia. I like it. Good work, Steven."
Rachel arched a brow. "Why does 'Rachel' have a line crossed through it?"
"Sorry, Grandma, no doubles. You already have a namesake in Jasmine Rachel Cassandra Cory. We also crossed out Stephanie, if it makes you feel better."
"Felicia Devon-Frame," Lorna's mother zeroed in on her personal favorite. "That does have a nice ring to it."
"We're not hyphenating," Lorna corrected. "Steven, you can cross that out, too." She explained, "Read the stocking: Baby Girl Frame. Period. Only I plan to test it out first. Also without the hyphen."
Lucas smiled. "Have the two of you set a date yet?"
"As quickly as we can pull something together," Jamie assured. "We're thinking a small, simple wedding," that last one was directed at Kirkland. "Primarily family. Parents, siblings, nieces, Dean and Lori Ann, Alice..."
The only person not aware of the grimace and immediate stiffening emanating from Rachel was Felicia who continued to stare at Lorna with disbelief. "So you're just going to drop the name Devon completely? Be a Frame, and that's it?"
Lorna shrugged. "It's kind of a family tradition, isn't it? You changed your first and last name for business reasons. Dad abandoned having a last name entirely. What's the big deal?"
"Hold on a minute, Sarah," Marley called, cutting off the younger woman's attempt to sneak up the stairs to her room without being spotted.
Sarah paused, arranging her features into a mask of oblivious good cheer before turning to face Marley, who was hurrying up the steps, meeting her half-way.
"What did you think you were doing, taking Michele and Bridget to see Lorna?"
"Jasmine invited them to come along." Sarah was determined to play dumb-blonde to the end. "I just gave the girls a ride."
"Without my permission."
"I-I'm sorry, Marley. But, Jamie's their uncle..."
"Jamie was their uncle," she corrected.
"And I've taken them plenty of places before without..."
"I invited you to move in and help me out with the girls because I trusted your judgment, Sarah. I didn't think I needed to check up on you. Obviously, I was wrong."
"I don't understand. What did I do?"
"Lorna Devon is not my idea of a fit role model for my children. If Lila wants to let Jasmine pick up all sorts of bad habits, that's her business. I won't stand for it."
"She seems okay to me."
"Well, you don't know her, do you?"
"Actually, after you and Midget left, we talked for a little bit and "
"What do you have to talk to Lorna about?"
Sarah shrugged, realizing she'd walked into another quagmire. "Nothing much. Steven, mostly. I mean, she's engaged to his dad and..."
"I'm Steven's aunt. I've known him since he was a baby. What do you think Lorna can tell you about him that I can't?"
"How to hold on to him," Sarah said simply, this time realizing the inflammatory nature of her words, but eager to bring the entire, awkward conversation to an end.
Marley blushed furiously. "I guess hoodwinking decent men into falling for her act hook, line and sinker would be Lorna's area of expertise. I expected better from you, Sarah."
"You knew I wanted Steven back. You encouraged me to go for it, too."
"Guess my advice didn't get the job done."
"I'm sorry, Marley. I honestly didn't mean to upset you."
"I wanted to trust you. I needed someone I could count on to be on my side."
"I I am on your side. I mean, I didn't realize there were sides, but "
"First Grant, then Jamie... Donna, now you... What the hell is wrong with me? Why is everyone constantly turning on me like this?"
"I didn't. And I'm not sure what you think the rest of them did..."
"They made me believe I could depend on them. They promised they'd be there for me, especially when I needed them the way that I... And then they lied to me. Every one of them, they all lied. For different reasons. But, what does it matter? The point is I still can't trust them anymore. I was hoping you, at least... I had such high hopes for you."
"You can trust me, Marley," Sarah said, attempting to talk her down. "I promise, I won't take the girls anywhere again without asking you first."
"I don't want you here, anymore," Marley said. "Pack your things and go. I can't have you around. Not now. Not when everything is so... precarious."
"Why? What's going on?"
"It's none of your business," Marley snapped. "Just get out. Leave me alone."
"I have to hand it to Jamie," plate and proverbial hat in hand, Felicia approached Rachel as soon as Lorna had blown out her candles and was busy taking direction from Kirkland on precisely how his masterpiece of a cake should be cut and distributed. "He raised two phenomenal boys. Lorna was deeply touched by their efforts on her behalf. I could tell."
"Is that your way of saying maybe my son isn't nearly as unacceptable as you previously thought?"
"I'm sorry, Rachel. It was incredibly rude of me to attack Jamie the way that I did."
Jamie's mother noted that Felicia said she was rude not that she was wrong. But, in the interest of keeping peace during a family occasion... so many separate families about to be combined into one, that was a challenging enough task for now; Rachel swallowed her reservations and chose to accept Felicia's imperfect olive branch, commiserating, "We all say things we don't mean when we think we're protecting our children."
"Like I did in court?" Felicia articulated her current, greatest terror.
"I'm sure, once she understands the circumstances, Lorna will forgive you."
"The same way I forgave my family for stealing my baby and telling me she was dead? I fear you've been spoiled, Rachel. Your children have been most generous with judging your transgressions."
"My luck is bound to run out. Someday," Rachel said, letting her gaze drift over to Jamie, desperately wondering if she'd imagined the cool greeting he gave her earlier, or whether she was simply reading too much into his understandable distraction.
"At least your children confide in you. When the chips are down, they come to you."
"Not always," Rachel shook her head, again thinking of Jamie. Seeing him step away from the dessert table, she excused herself to Felicia and approached her son. He darted into his study before she could say a word.
"A page from the hospital," Lorna explained, handing Rachel a generous slice of cake and intending to keep moving, only to be stopped by her resting a hand on Lorna's wrist.
"I meant what I said earlier," Rachel reiterated. "It is wonderful seeing you doing so well. We were all desperately worried these past few months. Yes, even me," she informed Lorna's cynical expression. "My son loves you. You are my granddaughter's mother. That makes you a part of my family now."
"Whether you like it or not?"
"I believe that goes both ways," Rachel challenged. "Once you and Jamie are married, Carl and I will be your "
"Please don't say it. It's my birthday, I'm pregnant, and I have a sensitive stomach these days. I'd hate to ruin your shoes."
"It's been a very long time since I've seen my son so happy. If I were completely honest, I'd admit I've never seen him this happy. And I realize that's solely due to you."
"I'm sorry, either I'm finally having that stroke they were all so afraid of, or "
"You're fine. And you heard me correctly."
"This is because I almost died, isn't it?"
"Your accident did help put things into perspective for me. How much Jamie loves you. How big a part of his life and future you are. I accept that now."
"Even after everything that came out when I was hurt?" Rachel nodded categorically, but Lorna couldn't quite let it go that easily. "Why? Obviously I'm a glutton for punishment, begging you to ream me out at my own birthday party, but I'd honestly rather know why you're giving me this free pass."
"Jamie loves you. He trusts you and he believes...he always believed in you. Even when he had every reason not to. I've learned the hard way what happens when I don't trust my son to know his own mind, or his own heart."
"So you're just waiting it out, hoping I mess up again and Jamie ends things on his own?"
"On the contrary. Believe it or not, Lorna, I sincerely hope you are exactly the partner, wife, and mother to his child that Jamie has been searching for his whole life. I want to be wrong about you. The only thing I'll say about what happened with Morgan is this: I will not, ever again, stand to see my son endure the kind of pain he was in for the four longest, most hellish months of his life. Know what you have in him. Trust him the way he trusts you. Love him the way he loves you. Do I make myself clear?" Rachel indicated the fourth finger of Lorna's left hand. "I see Jamie gave you my mother's ring."
Lorna nodded silently, bracing herself.
"It suits you," Rachel said. And moved on....
"Jamie," Felicia politely acknowledged him as she passed by the study door just as Jamie was exiting, post-checking in with the hospital. "I'm glad I bumped into you."
"It's my house," he pointed out. "Mine and Lorna's."
Maneuvering him into a private corner, Felicia said, "Lorna is bound to notice the tension between all of us sooner or later."
"And you want to know if I plan to keep my mouth shut. I've done it so far, Felicia."
"The things I was prepared to do when Lorna was ill... I don't want her blindsided with the information. If someone were to let something slip..."
"You're going to follow her around and run interference with anyone she sees? You can't be with her every minute of the day. We have to be prepared "
"You mean you want to be prepared? You want to control the timing so you can put yourself in the best possible light." Jamie lowered his voice. "I will not let you dump everything that happened on Lorna just so you can clear your conscience. You said you were prepared to live with yourself if you had actually gotten approval for the abortion, you can sure as hell stomach the wait for your day of judgment until Lorna has recovered fully. We've already had this debate, Felicia. And I won. I realize you probably wish with every fiber of your being that you could blink your eyes and zap me to some remote area of the Antarctic. But you're going to have to get over that and yourself to accept that I'm here for the long haul."
"I'll believe it when I see it, Jamie. Your track record in that area isn't exactly stellar."
"Oh, you'll see it. Birthdays, holidays, Sunday dinners, the day when Lorna and I finally put you in a nursing home; there I'll be Jamie Frame, the son-in-law you just couldn't shake, and who lived to tell the tale. You can come after me every which way; test me any way you like... I'll pass. I'll pass with flying colors every damn time."
|Receive email notification every time www.anotherworldtoday.com is updated|