"What the hell?" Freshly out of Jeanne's shower, Matt stood wearing only a towel wrapped around his waist, disbelievingly reading the news about his own, apparently imminent, lawsuit off her iPad.
"Did you know Lorna was planning to do this?" Jeanne didn't let the sight of Matt nearly naked distract her from something that she obviously found more interesting. Which he, in turn, found a little bit offensive, actually. But, now wasn't the time to discuss it.
"No. I mean, yes."
"How about picking one? For the record."
"This all happened months ago!"
"So you did sexually harass your brother's fiancée, months ago?"
"She wasn't my brother's fiancée, then. She was just "
Jeanne read the complaint. "An independent contractor working for C-Squared?"
"Who was forced on me, by the way."
"So you decided to force yourself on her?"
"No!" Matt stomped over to the chair where he'd taken off his clothes the night before.
"It says here that you came over to her house her and your brother's house uninvited while she was officially on leave, demanded that she complete a brand new assignment on the spot, then kissed her."
"It wasn't I didn't mean "
"So it did happen?" Jeanne double-checked.
"Oh, this should be good." She sat down on the bed, arms behind her, legs crossed, looking up at him expectantly.
"I was trying to make a point," Matt attempted to explain.
"By paying lip service literally?"
"Would you give me a break, here? I know it was stupid, okay? And I apologized for it. Later. But, this was when Lorna and Jamie first got together, and I I didn't think she'd be good for him."
"Sure it wasn't just jealousy talking? Didn't you and Lorna have a thing?"
"Like a million years ago." He pulled on his pants and buckled the belt. "And it wasn't jealousy. I know how Lorna operates. I know how she uses men to get what she wants."
"So what did she want from Jamie?"
"I don't know," Matt confessed. "Money. Respectability. It doesn't matter. I was aiming to show Jamie what kind of a woman Lorna was. So I kissed her. And she responded by slapping me into a previous lifetime. Then Jamie came home, and it got ugly..."
"When was this, again?" Jeanne persisted.
"Oh, I don't know. Long before she got hurt. Last summer, I think."
"And she waited all this time to file a complaint?"
"Not exactly," Matt hedged. "She had the papers drawn up the next day. She used them to threaten me as to what would happen if I ever did that to Jamie or her again. The deal was, I'd lay off, and she would never press charges."
"Until the day of her wedding. That's... interesting."
"I was out with Jamie last night. He didn't mention anything about "
"You need to hustle over to Lorna's and find out what the hell is going on here."
"Now? They're getting married in a couple of hours!"
"You'd better hurry, then." Jeanne handed him his shirt. "Oh, and Matt?"
"I'll expect a full report when you get back."
"What in the name of Heaven do you think you're doing?" Donna gaped at the startling intruder in Michele's bedroom.
"None of your damned business," Grant barked in quick defense, mostly to hide his surprise at being caught. He'd hoped to be in and out of the Love home with packed bags for Marley and the girls without anyone namely Donna being the wiser.
"And what might that be?" Donna's eyes snapped to the overnight bag on the bed in front of him. Grant quickly zipped it shut.
"Clothes for Marley. She sent me here to pick up a few things."
"What items could she possibly need from my girls' rooms?"
"Photos," Grant's mind clicked as he swooped up a picture frame from the bookcase. "Of her girls. Something to help remind Marley what she's fighting for while she's locked up in the snake-pit you, Jamie, and Lorna conspired to trap her in."
"My daughter wouldn't be heading off anywhere, if it weren't for you."
"Go to hell," Grant moved to stride past her, determined to avoid any engagement that might suck away precious time.
Donna moved to block his path. "Wasn't it enough what you did to Victoria? You had to twist and corrupt Marley, as well?"
"If there is anything wrong with Marley, then the blame lies entirely at your doorstep. All I've done is love her. Protect her. Now, get out of my way."
"Gladly," Donna reached to wrench the bag from Grant's grip. "And I will gladly see to it that Marley gets this."
"You've done enough to Marley, as of late."
"I've done nothing but try to help and safeguard my daughter from the likes of you."
Grant snorted. "After years of undermining her with emotional manipulation. Not to mention nearly killing her, which I had an unfortunate front-row seat to witness. You can play the doting mother as stridently as you like, but you and I both know, when all is said and done, the only personage of importance to you is you. This manufactured drama over Marley's mental health has nothing to do with her, and everything with your need to be the center of attention. Your desperation to reinvent yourself as the hero after years of proving capable of just about anything including greedily devouring your young."
"That's your back-story, Grant. Not mine."
"Of course, as soon as the heat gets too much and you're actually called to the carpet to own up to your indefensible actions, your go-to cover is Blame Daddy. The man's been dead for decades, and yet Reginald's somehow still pulling your strings."
"Isn't Daddy responsible for all your shortcomings, as well? Oh, no, I forgot, in your case, it's because Mommy didn't love you enough to suffer under Spencer's tyrannical rule or take you with her when she left him!"
"At least my mother didn't kill me to save her own hide," Grant said with eerie calm. "Which is more than I can say for poor Jenna."
Donna reared back to strike Grant across the face, only for him to easily catch her flaying arm, squeezing Donna's birdlike bones so tightly in his fist that she cried out involuntarily.
"I love Marley, Donna. Do you have a handle on what that means? It means I'll do anything to keep her from harm. It means that anyone who threatens her will have to deal with me, and anyone who hurts her will pay. You've hurt her. Over and over again. And for the last time. Don't you ever doubt me about that."
"A year ago," Frankie ventured as she and Cass sat in their car outside of Donna's house, having followed Grant there on what appeared to be a mysterious errand complete with equally mysterious suitcases. "Could you have imagined the two of us not being invited to Lorna and Jamie's wedding? I mean, Jamie is my cousin, and you and Felicia..."
"A year ago, I couldn't have imagined there being a Lorna and Jamie's wedding. That is most definitely not a couple anyone predicted in a million years."
"Takes one to know one," Frankie teased, leaning over to kiss him briefly. "Who could have predicted you and me?"
"Anybody aware of my penchant for brilliant, infuriating, passionate, stubborn, and wise redheads," Cass answered smugly, as if no other response were possible.
"Speaking of infuriating, stubborn redheads..." Frankie began, prompting Cass to groan and flop back into his seat, the mood broken.
"Charlotte Frame Winthrop."
"That's the one."
He tackled what he knew to be Frankie's question head-on. "How could we not have known that she's dating Kirkland?"
"Well," Frankie hedged. "The thing is, I knew. Kind of."
"And you didn't tell me?"
"I wasn't sure. Charlie wasn't sure. She told me he asked her to go with him to Jamie and Lorna's wedding "
"Oh, good, so at least we'll have some Winthrop representation there."
"Actually, Morgan is going, too."
Cass grimaced. "Seriously?"
"With Amanda, yeah."
"Amanda? When did that... Never mind, more important question," Cass raised a finger in the air. "So, let me get this straight: The guy Lorna was secretly married to, the one who claimed to be the father of her baby so he could have it aborted, he's fit to attend the wedding. But, you and I... This is just like when it was okay for the Prince of Bahrain, who shoots protestors dead in the streets, to be invited to the royal wedding, but not Sarah Ferguson."
"I wouldn't say it's exactly like that," Frankie hair-split. "Lorna still doesn't know everything that Morgan was up to while she lay unconscious. But, she has a pretty good memory of what we both put Jamie through a year ago."
"So how come you're so much more in tune with what's going on in my family than I am?"
"Our family," she corrected. "And taking into account the fight you and Morgan had when you first got out of prison, not to mention over Lorna, I think it's kind of obvious why maybe he doesn't feel too comfortable spilling his guts to you these days."
"And Charlie? What about her? I thought at least she and I were okay."
"We really haven't had a lot of time for her lately, Cass. This Grant case..."
"This Grant and Kirkland case," Cass stressed. "If that boy is in as much trouble as we think he is, Lila is right, how can we even consider letting her get sucked into his orbit?"
Seemingly apropos to nothing, Frankie asked, "What was Lila and Charlie's relationship like while I was... gone?"
Cass squirmed. "It pretty much changed on an hourly basis. But, Lila said that was common for..."
"For who, Cass?" When he declined to finish his sentence, Frankie did it for him. "For mothers and daughters, is what she meant."
Cass opened his mouth, but it took a moment before any sound squeaked out. "We thought you were dead. Jasmine... Jazz had Matt, so I could just be the nice stepfather who spoiled her. But, Charlie... we thought you were dead."
"And so you encouraged Lila to take my place."
"It was more complicated than that. Charlie really liked Lila, especially when we first got married. But, then, I think she started feeling guilty about liking Lila too much. Part of it was my fault, I'm sure. I was so determined to keep your memory alive for her... I know I sent mixed messages. Charlie began acting up, pushing Lila away, not wanting anything to do with her. Lila got upset, and there was friction. Especially when you came back "
"And forced Charlie to keep it a secret from you."
"Actually, in retrospect, that does explain a lot of the changes in her. Lila took it personally. She'd thought of Charlie as her daughter, same as Jasmine. It hurt Lila to have Charlie turn on her like that."
"Did Charlie know how much her actions upset Lila?"
"Oh, I'm sure she must have. Why?"
"Because it feels like she's doing the exact same thing to me now."
"You do realize I have more important things to do today than get into an argument with you, right?" Jamie eyed Matt upon finding his younger brother on his doorstep.
"Maybe Lorna should've thought about that before leaking her damned complaint to the press," Matt threw over his shoulder as he brushed past Jamie, into the house.
"Or maybe you should've thought about what kind of fall-out would come from you deciding to hit on my girlfriend in the name of teaching us all a valuable lesson," Jamie thumped Matt on the back of the head for emphasis. "In any case, Lorna didn't leak the complaint, so kindly take your indignant, flaring nostrils elsewhere. If you don't mind, I have to get ready for a little shindig that's happening over at Mom's in a few hours..."
"And I'm happy for you. What I'm not happy about is being labeled a sleazy, horny jerk in the press."
"Is that because you're a sleazy, horny ass?" Lorna quipped as she descended the stairs.
"I apologized!" Matt stomped his foot petulantly. "When you were in the hospital, I told Jamie how sorry I was for everything I did! Tell her, Jamie!"
"He did apologize," Jamie conceded.
"And Jamie accepted," Matt added.
Lorna sniffed. "Would've been nice to witness some of that allegedly sincere remorse for myself."
"Jamie told everybody to leave you alone so you could recover," Matt defended. "He said you were to stay in a stress free zone and... well... you know me. And you. Our friendly snarking can kind of escalate."
"You still could've called. Sent flowers. Candy. Cash."
Matt rolled his eyes and stepped up to Lorna. "I'm sorry."
"The eye roll took away from the sincerity somewhat."
"I'm sorry," Matt repeated, this time sans eye roll. "I was a jerk for what I did. I've seen the light now. I know that you and Jamie are the best couple that ever coupled. There? Are you happy?"
Lorna asked Jamie, "Should I kick him in the ass, or do you want to smack him on the head again?"
"I think we're good," he chuckled when Matt flinched at Jamie patting his hair.
"Sometimes you're no fun," Lorna huffed before looking back to Matt. "Fine. Apology accepted. Now get out."
"Wait, what about the complaint? Aren't you going to rescind it? Make a statement about what a wonderful boss and future brother-in-law I am?"
"I didn't send it in the first place, Matt. And I don't know who did," Lorna added, cutting him off. "All I can tell you is that the copy I had in my desk is gone."
"Well, then, who "
"Don't know, don't care. I'm getting married today."
"You don't care that people are going to be whispering about this at your wedding?"
"I think more people are going to be snickering at the fact that I'm wearing white while eight months pregnant."
"We still have to do something."
"I did do something. Stop whining and stomping around for five seconds and check your news feeds."
"You put out a press release?" Matt grunted, fumbling for his BlackBerry.
"Turns out I have a real knack for this PR thing. Go figure. I have clients at C-Squared, remember? Didn't want this affecting them."
"You think it'll be enough?"
"Better be," Jamie cut in, grabbing Matt by the arm and dragging him towards the door. "Because this discussion is over."
"But, there's still other stuff we have to do! Figure out who did this! Punch them in the face!"
"Let it go, Matt," Lorna warned. "Don't do something to make it worse. Unless..."
"Unless what?" Jamie asked as he and Matt looked back to Lorna.
"Unless this has been your plan all along," Lorna mused. "Leak the complaint before I could use it against you; screw me and Jamie over at the same time."
"What?" Matt looked back and forth between Jamie and Lorna. "No! I would never "
"Hit on my girlfriend in my own home?"
"Try to use our past relationship to mess with my head and break up me and your brother?"
"I have a line," Matt seethed. "And making myself look bad to the public is one of them. I have a company and a reputation to maintain!"
"I believe you," Jamie nodded.
"Do you still want me... I mean, I understand with this out if you don't want me at the wedding. Might stir the paparazzi into a frenzy and make things worse."
"You're my brother. I want you there. Look, I don't know how what happened that night got out, but it has and it's done and there's nothing more we can do except ignore it and not let it ruin today. Can you do that for me? Just let this go?"
"Yes," Matt nodded. "It's the least I can do after... everything."
"But, once the party is over, can we then go look for the punk who did this and punch them in the face?" Matt put away the BlackBerry, turning it off without noticing that his phone had been on the entire time they were talking.
But, that was alright.
Jeanne had heard enough.
"Daddy!" Jen called down a crowded hallway of the Bay City Bar Association, pushing through a dozen smartly dressed men and women with briefcases heading in the opposite direction in order to reach him.
"What are you doing here?" Kevin did not look thrilled to see her.
"Trying to help," she informed him with the same utter self-confidence his daughter had radiated from the day they met.
"How did you even know where to find me?"
"Mr. Bauer told me," Jen indicated Mike, looking both self-righteous and hangdog, right behind Kevin. "He said your disbarment hearing was today. And that you didn't want anyone to know about it."
"So your response was to run right over?" Kevin shook his head. "Guess that elite education I shelled out for didn't include Active Listening."
"I'm not going to let you go through this alone. You need support from people who care about you. I'd have called Grandma "
"Don't you dare. Alice has Jamie's wedding today. Which is where you should be, too."
"We've got time. Mr. Bauer said it'll only take a few hours, at most."
Kevin turned to Mike, "I could have sworn there was something in the ethics code about confidentiality?"
"I'm old," Mike said. "I forget things."
"Go home, Jenny," Kevin said. "Unless you haven't been paying attention for the past fifteen years, I'll spell it out for you: I don't like failing. I especially don't like failing with an audience."
"I didn't bring you an audience," Jen said, and turned to wave a second interloper over. "I brought you a witness."
At the sight of GQ, Kevin groaned audibly. "Oh, fantastic."
"Hello, Mr. Fowler," GQ said.
"Hello, Mr. Todd." He asked his daughter, "How in the world could you possibly think anything GQ says might prove helpful to my case?"
"Because," Jen took her boyfriend's hand. "GQ has agreed to testify for you. To say that, as far as he knows, lying about Hudson's paternity was all Allie's idea, and you just went along with what your client told you."
"That's perjury," Kevin said calmly. "Uh-uh, no way."
"It's the truth," Jen insisted. "As far as GQ knows, that is what happened. You can't deny that Allie lied to him from the start, and that had nothing to do with you."
"It'd be a big help," Mike interrupted. "And the boy is telling the truth as he knows it. I'm not so old I've forgotten those particular rules. It's all kosher, I'll make sure of it."
"You put Jenny up to this?"
"Actually, it was her idea."
"And you're willing to do it?" Kevin asked GQ suspiciously.
"Yeah," he said. "For Jen's sake. She put up with a hell of a lot from me. I owe her."
"I thought that's what giving up Hudson was about?"
"No," GQ and Jen said in near-unison, both looking so terrified that Kevin grasped this was not a point to be pressed. Or questioned.
"Alright, well, I " he held out a hand to GQ. "I'd appreciate it."
"Okay," GQ said, unenthused but determined. "Let's get this over with."
Mike led the way into the hearing room, followed by Kevin. GQ tried to walk in next, but Jen pulled him back, giving GQ a quick kiss before they all went in.
"Thanks," she said. And then added shyly, "I love you."
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