"So," Matt couldn't help asking as he buttoned up his shirt. "Now that we have a basis for comparison, which would you say you prefer: KBAY Screening Room or news van?"
Slipping back into her own dress, Donna smiled cryptically but declined to answer one way or the other, reaching into her purse for a comb, making an attempt at straightening out her hair while peering into a tiny, compact mirror.
"You look beautiful," Matt assured her.
"I look a fright," she corrected archly, snapping shut the compact like a castanet.
"Don't," Matt warned, stepping up to rest both his hands on her shoulders.
"Don't what?" she just as deftly contorted away, turning to face him, but also taking a step back, the better to put more distance between them.
"Don't say what you're about to say."
"I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about."
"I'm sure you do." His tone wasn't so much accusatory as understanding. "We are now at the part where you tell me that this we are a mistake, and that I should forget all about you, and run along to find someone my own age to play with."
"Actually, you couldn't be more wrong."
"Oh, really?" he crossed his arms and waited expectantly.
"You weren't about to dismiss me like the hired help?"
"I would never do such a thing, Matthew. Not to you, in any case."
"Alright. In that case, I apologize."
He continued to wait. When Donna didn't speak, or move, or do much of anything, Matt felt compelled to follow up, "So... what comes next?"
"I beg your pardon?"
"Were you just going to stroll out the door and schedule a hair appointment?"
"Only if I couldn't get cell reception in here."
"It didn't work," Matt enlightened.
"You mean, my attempt at triage grooming?"
"I mean, your repeated attempts to push me away. When are you going to give it a rest, Donna? Obviously, I'm in this for the long haul. Telling me you never loved me didn't work. Pushing me at Jeanne didn't work."
"I did no such thing!"
"When are you going to admit that you and I are it? We can fight, we can break up, we can date other people "
"Marry other people..."
"And it still doesn't matter. We can't stay away from each other. Not for long."
"Then we should try harder," Donna pronounced.
"Why? Why should we do something that makes both of us feel so rotten?"
"Because rotten, Matthew, is still preferable to devastated. And that is what you and I inevitably end up, once the dust settles."
"And by dust, do you mean great sex?"
"No," Donna showed that, as advertised, she could give as good as she got under the right circumstances. "I daresay, we've never settled in that arena."
Matt laughed out loud. "You do love me!"
"Irrelevant," she clipped.
"How can "
"I'm bad for you. You aren't yourself when you're with me."
"Thank you for admitting it."
"I'm better. With you, I'm not just the best that I can be, I'm finally who I'm supposed to be."
"I'll hurt you again."
"And I'll forgive you. Again."
"We have quite the vicious cycle happening here, Matthew."
"So let's end it. Let's decide to end it. Both of us. What do you say, Donna? What do you say we make a conscious decision stop the cycle, and give Happily Ever After a shot?"
"So what's your battle-plan?" Lila questioned Grant from the wet bar, ice ringing as she dropped cube after cube into a glass.
In lieu of an answer, Grant merely growled from his lounge on the living room sofa.
Lila turned to give him a stern look. "You know what you did. You also know you have to fix it. So quit licking your wounds and get to it, already."
"I don't... nobody wants me to fix things. Marley's banned me from seeing her while she's at the sanitarium."
"Good thing, too. Your focus should be squarely on getting back your son."
"Lost cause. He's made his choice."
"You don't wear martyr well, Grant."
"I am trying to respect Kirkland's wishes."
"You are wallowing in your own misery in the hope that someone will take pity and plead your case for you. That's not going to happen. You have no allies in this land."
"What are you?" he threw at her.
"I'm someone you screwed over who, nevertheless, is here. A little bit for you, sure, I'll admit it."
"I knew you wouldn't be able to stay away," Grant smirked, before dropping the last of his defenses and offering sincerely, "Thank you, Lila. You don't know how much this means to me."
She acknowledged the gratitude and, at long last, the lack of posturing with a quick wink, while sticking to her original point. "But, mostly, I'm here for a boy who, even despite knowing all your sins against his mother, found it in his heart to love you anyway. He was longing for a relationship with you, any soul with eyes could see that."
"That was then. Now "
"How many times have you sworn to cut off Spencer?"
"Apples and oranges. Spencer's idea of parenting was forcing me to live out his dreams and ambitions. I never did that to Kirkland."
"What do you call this disaster with Marley? Every action you've taken since Election Day hurt the people Kirkland loves. And you expected him to go along and understand and be so grateful for everything you've done and all the sacrifices you supposedly made in his name like your father expected of you."
Grant blinked, eyes suddenly wet as it hit him. "No... You're... That's not what..."
"You've turned into your Daddy, Grant. That's just the way it goes. Which means now, you've got to do what you always wished Spencer would do for you. You have to get off the damn couch and become a better man for yourself and your son. Or else Kirkland's going to have a festering, Grant-shaped hole of disappointment in his heart, just like yours where Spencer should be."
"I tried to be a better man! That's what landed me in this mess in the first place!"
"Try harder," Lila advised.
Morgan's shift ended hours earlier, but he was still at the hospital, ostensibly catching up on paperwork, and, every half hour or so, taking a casual stroll through the maternity ward, checking to see if any new baby girls had arrived in the nursery healthy, with nothing for her parents to worry about beyond the booming cost of a college education.
It wasn't until nearly dawn that Morgan's unofficial vigil was rewarded with the sight of Jamie walking down the hallway, Lorna being pushed in a wheelchair by his side, looking exhausted, astonished, victorious, and happier than Morgan had ever seen her including at the wedding, which he'd thought set the bar ridiculously high to begin with.
Morgan figured that they all had the swaddled baby currently balanced in Lorna's lap to thank for that. That Lorna had been allowed to carry her daughter out of the delivery room told him there had been no complications with either of them. Jamie had gotten his wish. And Lorna had finally gotten her family.
She glanced up briefly, and Morgan thought she saw him. He smiled and raised a hand in greeting. But, even though she'd peered absently in his direction, Lorna appeared to look right through him, having eyes only for her daughter.
No. Morgan was wrong about that. Jamie bent over to whisper in Lorna's ear, and she tilted her head, laughing, responding with something that made him grin in return. The baby chose that moment to wave a tiny fist or was that a foot? in the air. This wasn't just about her long-awaited infant for Lorna. This was about the three of them. This was about what the three of them had fought so hard for all winter long.
What Morgan had done his best to prevent.
"I've always loved this picture," Alice remarked as she sat down next to a sulking Spencer and gently lifted the referred to casing from his hand. Kirkland, Grant, and Spencer grinned up at her from the photo, all dressed up in their formal attire for Spencer and Alice's wedding. "Three generations of Harrisons."
"Not anymore. It's going to be Kirkland Frame now. Son of Jamie Frame. Grandson of... Hell, he'll be more a member of your family than mine." Spencer accepted, "My only legacy now is Grant. And what that boy has become is nothing to be proud of. I spent my entire life trying to ease his path, make it smoother, the way a good father is supposed to do. But, I can't help him out of this latest disaster he's triggered. All I can do at this point is just walk away."
"So the very act you condemn Grant for, you're committing yourself?" Alice asked in a pointed tone. She could be sympathetic. But, only up to a point.
"Grant gave away his son!" Spencer looked at her in surprise at the unexpected chiding.
"And now you're giving up on him when he needs your support and guidance the most."
"My dubious support and guidance is, in all likelihood, what made Grant the man he is today. And, given your relationship with Jamie, you are the last person I'd expect to assume the role of Grant's cheerleader."
"Unlike the Harrisons, it appears, I am capable of loving and being loyal to a broad swath of people."
"You'll have to teach me your approach sometime," he grumbled.
"What do you think I'm doing right now?" she rested her hand on the back of his head.
He visibly relaxed at her touch, his shoulders drooping just a little, even as Spencer lamented, "You should've heard the bull Grant was spouting. That he had to protect Marley. That he thought Kirkland would understand. Not a word of apology! He still believes that we're all wrong, and he's in the right!"
"Our children make mistakes. We don't have to agree or even condone them. But, we do have to help them, if not to see the error of their ways, then, at least, to make amends. If you want Grant to be the father Kirkland deserves, give him an example to follow."
"Except that's the problem!" Spencer exploded. "Everything that Grant is... that he's done... it's a reflection... an imitation of me. Taking what I wanted. Making deals with the devil when I couldn't. Lying, scheming, covering-up, trying to conform the world to my vision rather than accepting it as is. That's me leading by example."
"I know," Alice said simply and, in response to Spencer's stunned reaction, reminded, "I told you I walked into this marriage, and this family, with my eyes wide open, not just where you were concerned, but Grant, too. You have made some horrible missteps with him."
"Well, yes," he sputtered. "But, it wasn't just me... Justine..."
"Didn't help matters," Alice agreed.
"Maybe if I hadn't forced her to leave him..."
"If Justine were any kind of a mother, nothing would've kept her from her children. Not even you." As with all things, Alice stated her opinion without judgment, merely fact.
"Still, Grant spent most of his life longing for a love he was destined never to get. Not from her. Not from me. That boy's been searching, wanting, wishing, craving it ever since. He wanted it so much he was willing to sell his own son to get it." Spencer stared at the photo again in disbelief. "The irony is, he finally had it, too. Not from a woman like he always expected, but from Kirkland. He finally had that unconditional... and it wasn't enough, I guess. Even Kirkland couldn't fix what I'd broken. And if Kirkland couldn't, then what hope do I have? Where would I even start?"
"Do you love him?" was all Alice asked in return.
Spencer reflexively smiled, sadly, tearfully, giving a little sniff as he cleared his throat. "I may not like what my son has become, I may hate the things that he's done, but yes, I do love him."
"Then that, my darling, is where you start."
"Mom?" Having settled Lorna into her room, Jamie needed to step outside in order to use his cell-phone and call Rachel. "It's a girl. She's here. I have a daughter."
"Oh!" Rachel exclaimed, momentarily too stunned to do any more than that. "How how is she?"
"She's great, she's terrific, she's perfect." Having kept his emotions in check for so long for Lorna's sake, Jamie found himself literally dissolving, laughing and crying to his mother in a way he honestly couldn't with anyone else. "I didn't think I mean, I've participated in so many deliveries... I didn't think this would be any... I wasn't there when Steven was born, so I couldn't... it's different when it's your own, isn't it? I didn't expect to... She's incredible, Mom."
"And Lorna? How's Lorna?"
"Beautiful. Amazing. Extraordinary. She swore to me she'd be able to do this with no problems. I was scared. I was so scared, you have no idea. If anything went wrong... I wouldn't have been able to "
"But, it didn't," Rachel reminded him gently, the way she had when he was a little boy, terrified that nightmares were real. "It didn't. Lorna and the baby are okay?"
"They're fine. They're more than fine. They're a miracle. Both of them."
"I'm so happy for you, Jamie." There really weren't adequate words to describe just how Rachel felt at the moment, so she settled for the banal and predictable, when her emotions were anything but. "So happy, I can't I can't think of anyone who deserves this more. When can I come and see you all?"
"Well," Jamie struggled to collect himself, checking his watch. "Lorna is sleeping right now, she's exhausted."
"As she has every right to be. Delivering a baby is hard work."
"So, maybe this afternoon? I still have to call Felicia. I suppose I should have let her know earlier, but I wanted to wait until... I didn't want her to worry."
"She'll understand," Rachel reassured, despite harboring some suspicions to the contrary. "She'll be so thrilled to hear Lorna and the baby are healthy, nothing else will matter."
"I hope so," he admitted.
"Jamie... is it alright, can I ask... What's my new granddaughter's name?"
He laughed out of sheer, giddy joy, pride and release. "Devon. Her name is Devon Ada Frame."
"Devon Ada..." Rachel repeated. "Oh, honey, that was so nice of you..."
"It was Lorna's idea, actually. You know how much she loved Grandma."
"Devon Ada Frame. It's a lovely name."
"It was our way of including everybody, Lorna's family, mine. So many people were a part of bringing her into the world. We don't ever want to forget that. We want Devon to know it, too."
Morgan hesitated outside the door for just a moment, due more to the earliness of the hour than to any indecision on his part.
The moment he saw Lorna with Jamie and their baby was the moment Morgan realized that, damn it, Cass was right. It was time way past time for Morgan to quit dithering around and acting as if he had all the time in the world.
He didn't. Not if he expected to not merely find happiness, but to enjoy it, as well. He needed to get cracking if Morgan still expected to lead the kind of life he'd always wanted. He needed to seize the day.
Or, in this case, the morning.
When he'd called Amanda's cell-phone earlier, a recording advised to contact her at the Brava offices, they were putting their latest issue to bed and that was inevitably an all-nighter. Morgan left a message anyway. Then, after getting no answer for several hours, decided to drive on over, instead.
The offices were deserted by the time he got there. Morgan figured once they finished up in the wee hours, Amanda had sent her hard-working staff home to sleep. But, maybe Amanda remained on the premises. It wouldn't hurt to take a quick look.
He knocked on the door. There was no answer, even though Morgan could have sworn he heard muffled movement on the other side. He knocked again and, this time, Amanda did answer, looking frazzled and stressed and distracted and... adorable.
She blinked up in surprise at him. "Morgan? What are you "
"I called before," he began.
"I left a message on my phone telling people I was up to my neck in deadlines. We just finished a half hour ago. What's wrong? Did something happen? An emergency?"
"No! No, nothing like that. Well, actually, Lorna and Jamie did have their baby..."
"They did?" Despite everything she'd mumbled under her breath during their wedding, not to mention Amanda's long-term feelings towards Lorna in general, she couldn't help feeling thrilled for her big brother nonetheless, asking anxiously, "And everything went okay? No complications for either of them?"
"Flying colors. You have a perfectly healthy new niece."
"Jamie must be over the moon."
"They both seemed to be, last I saw them."
"That's great. But... you didn't come all the way here to tell me that."
"No," he admitted.
"Listen, Morgan, actually, I'm glad you're here. I wanted to let you know "
"Can I tell you something first?"
"I think, if you let me "
"Please?" he beseeched. "I'll be quick. All I came to say was, I know what we agreed on no strings, no demands, no commitments."
"Right. About that "
"I think I might have changed my mind."
"What?" His statement finally managed to derail the train of thought she'd been attempting to get out.
"I had this conversation with my brother, he called me a couple of choice names, it was a rotten scene."
"About me?" Amanda asked, more confused than ever.
"In a way. I told him we were friends with benefits. Technically more like casual acquaintances. And he asked if I wasn't maybe getting too old to take everything so... casually. I told him I wasn't. I didn't think I was. But, then, I saw Lorna and Jamie, and... I want what they have. Now, I'm not saying it should be with you, or it could be with you, or even that I want it to be with you."
"Thanks," Amanda had to choke back a smirk.
"But, I do know that I need to find out what and who it is exactly that I do want. And, right now, all I know is, the first person that came to mind was... you."
"Hold on, Morgan."
"Don't freak out, okay? I'm not saying we have to change "
"But, we do," she cut him off.
"You mean, you also "
"Things do have to change between us, Morgan. And right away, too." Sheepishly, Amanda help up her hand, showing Morgan a gold wedding band that he was pretty sure had not been there the last time her fingers had run up and down his back or dug into his hair. "Kevin and I... we got married last night."
|Receive email notification every time www.anotherworldtoday.com is updated|