"So how was tea and crumpets with Winthrop and Wife?" Grant asked Lila after she'd stopped by his home to make sure in Lila's words that Grant hadn't slipped back into any bad habits.
"What?" she wrinkled her brow, confused.
"McMillan and Wife? It was a television show about a detective and.... In the early 70s? Never mind," Grant sighed, taking it as yet another sign of just how old and out of touch he was these days. "How'd your meeting with Cass and Frankie go? Think they can get you the information you're looking for?"
"They promised to try. And they certainly got the job done on Lorna's hit-and-run," Lila reminded pointedly, while Grant shifted uncomfortably in his seat.
And changed the subject. "I'm still not sure precisely what you're hoping to accomplish."
"You're the one who told me, months ago, that Chase hiring me out of the blue like that was suspicious."
"What does that have to do with his being gay, though?"
"I don't know," Lila admitted. "All I know is, something about the fellow doesn't add up in all sorts of ways. He's hiding something. And if I'm a part of it, I'd like to know. Before it's too late."
"Too late for what?"
"Never you mind."
"Are you... Lila, are you actually hoping that Chase isn't really gay? Have you have you fallen for him?"
"Of course not," she dismissed. "Especially not after he came bustin' into my office, hollering and accusing me of sleeping with the enemy. That's you, by the way, in case you were wondering."
"Chase thinks you and I... "
"No need to be looking so smug, I set him straight. Heh," Lila smirked at her own inadvertent choice of words.
"Why does Chase care one way or the other?"
"He thinks you're gunning for his job."
"I told him that from the start."
"He thinks you're using me to do it."
"Hm," Grant said, prompting Lila to recall Charlie and her observation that there was no such thing as a good hm. She was starting to agree with her.
"What? What are you thinking?"
"In my experience," Grant began slowly.
"Which is massive when it comes to sneaky behavior," Lila confirmed.
Grant growled at her before continuing, "Accusing someone is a pretty good indicator you've considered committing the same act yourself at some point."
"So..." Lila wasn't sure she totally grasped what he was trying to tell her. "You do think Chase is..."
"I don't know," Grant threw up his hands. "I wish I could help you, Lila, I really do. I used to envision myself rather good at this sort of thing, but now..."
"What?" Lila leapt on his vagueness, looking to put the subject of her own confusion to rest for the time being. "What's going on with you?"
"Nothing as interesting as with you, that's for sure!"
"But there is something?"
"I I don't know. I think there might be... but... no. I'm just... It's been a rough few weeks, between Marley and Kirkland... I'm grasping at straws. Making things up to assuage my own ego. She couldn't possibly be interested in me. Not like that, anyway."
"Why not?" Lila challenged.
"You don't even know who I'm talking about."
"Doesn't matter. You're reasonably good looking, well-spoken, slick, certainly capable of turning on the charm when you feel so inclined. Why wouldn't this mystery woman of yours be liking what she sees?"
"Because," Grant insisted adamantly. "She... she's barely a grown woman."
"Excuse me?" Lila put a hand on her hip. "You diddling a teen-ager, Grant?"
"Then how old is she?"
"Old enough to vote."
"Old enough to drink?"
"At private parties," he hedged.
"Jesus Christ, Grant!"
"It's not like that," he swore. "That's exactly my point. I didn't go after... I wouldn't. I Marley. Marley needs me. She... this girl... this young woman... she came after me. At least, I think she did. I'm in your shoes. I think I understand what's happening, but I don't know for sure."
"Well, are you thinking of taking her up on her," Lila cleared her throat. "Offer?"
He was spared having to answer by the ringing of the phone, which Grant scooped up on the first chime, lest Lila intercede and send it to voice-mail in order to force his answer.
It was a nurse from Clareview, one Grant had "financially encouraged" to keep him abreast of what was going on with Marley. "Mr. Harrison? I'm afraid we've had a problem with Ms. Hudson...."
"You promised me a wacky disguise to go along with our wacky hijinks," Felicia chided Cass sternly after he'd filled her in on the role Cass expected Felicia to play in his and Frankie's ongoing investigation of Chase Hamilton.
"You are wearing a wacky disguise," he pointed out. "You are going to talk to Chase acting like the Felicia Gallant everyone expects you to be, instead of the Felicia Gallant I know you really are."
"Ah. Got it. So the feather boa is mandatory."
"Thank you for this," Cass said sincerely.
"Oh, no, thank you, darling. I told you over the 4th, I need something to bring the old Felicia back front and center. Now all we require is Wally and..."
Cass smiled fondly. "I like to believe, whenever you and I gear up to do something we really shouldn't, he's there, cheering us on."
"I wonder what Wally would think of us now? We've both certainly made some wrong turns these past few years."
"Which we are both in the process of correcting. You and Lucas, me and Frankie, I feel like we're finally back on track. After the years of ill-timed disruptions."
"You don't seem sure," Felicia observed.
"Has Lucas filled you in on what he was up to all the time he was gone?" Cass asked abruptly.
"Most of it. He was held prisoner by Donna for years. And then he made a deal for his freedom, which at least allowed him to move around. He came to Lorna. I know they became very close. I suppose that's one blessing out of this entire thing."
"Frankie never talks about anything that happened while she was missing. I know she was in the hospital initially, but she lived for close to a decade as Mary Ordway. She must have had a life, a job, colleagues, friends..."
"Men," Felicia prompted gently.
"Yeah," Cass exhaled, relieved to finally admit his concerns. "Frankie is a beautiful, passionate, loving woman. She couldn't possibly have been alone all that time, I refuse to believe that."
"And she hasn't indicated..."
"Not a word."
"Have you asked?"
"I've been scared to," he confessed.
"What's got you thinking about it now?"
"At first, I was just so happy to have Frankie back. And then there were the threats from Cecile, her death, my going to jail... I simply didn't have time to live in anything but the present. Now, though, it feels like we've finally gotten a chance to take a breath, be like any other normal family. Frankie and I, we've had some... issues with Charlie lately."
"I know. Frankie filled me in."
"Really? What do you... what do you think about what's going on?"
"I think that you and Frankie are terrific parents, and Charlie is lucky to have you both."
"Thanks," Cass replied ruefully, then went on with his original thought. "Frankie has been talking a lot more lately about all the years she missed with Charlie. It prompted me to wonder whom she did spend them with."
"Would it matter? You finding out the whole story?"
"I don't know."
"Do you want to know?"
"Yes," Cass nodded his head after a few moments thought. "I think I think I do."
"I was looking for you," Allie told Amanda after finally tracking her down to the Brava offices. "Back at the house."
"I've been staying at Kevin's." Amanda reminded, "We are married now."
"Oh. So, are you going to move out? Or is Kevin moving into the house?"
"We haven't actually talked about that yet," Amanda admitted, surprised herself that the issue hadn't come up. Then again, except for filling in their respective families and the 4th of July pseudo-wedding reception, she and Kevin had kind of been carrying on as if they were still just casually dating. They hadn't discussed any kind of long-term plans.
"Alright." That obviously wasn't what Allie had come to talk to Amanda about.
"Is something wrong? Did you need me for something?"
"I had a question," Allie said.
"Okay." Amanda braced herself. Allie looked so serious.
"What kind of kid did you want?"
Amanda's head jerked back as if she'd been slapped. "What... what do you mean?"
"I mean, I know you didn't really want a kid when you had one, being so young and everything. But, once you decided to go ahead and have one, you must have had some idea of what kind of kid you wanted."
"I don't understand," Amanda repeated numbly, scrambling to figure out what Allie was actually asking before she, just as desperately, attempted to summon up an apt answer.
Allie sighed with exasperation. "Jen cornered me at school earlier. She wanted to give me a talking-to about how I shouldn't make any trouble in your and Kevin's marriage."
"But, you're not "
"Jen said you told her you were worried about that. Did you tell her you were worried about that, Mom?"
"Well, not in so many words..."
"But, you did say something to her about it?"
"I just wanted to make sure that Jen and GQ were sensitive to your feelings in all of this. I was looking out for you, Allie, I swear I was."
Allie ignored the justification. "Jen told me how she didn't want to make any trouble for her dad, because she's always trying to be the daughter he needs her to be. I asked her if she was scared Kevin wouldn't love her anymore if she went off the tracks even a little bit, and she said.... It doesn't matter what she said. It made me think, though, at least Jen knows who her dad wishes she was. I haven't got any idea what you want from me."
"I I don't want anything from you, Allie. Except to be happy. I really just want you to be happy."
"You must have had some fantasies about what your daughter would be like. Don't all parents?"
"No. I mean, yes, of course, when you were a baby, Sam and I, we'd talk about the hopes and dreams we had for you."
"So is that what happened? When Dad went away you just... gave up on me?"
"No!" Amanda said, knowing other words should follow.
Unable to think of a single one.
"Ms. Hudson doesn't wish to see you, Mr. Harrison," the Clareview duty nurse reminded firmly though somewhat impassively, despite Grant's pleas which turned into threats which turned into bribes, all to equal effect.
"This is an emergency," he insisted. "I know she was very upset "
"And how would you know that?"
"What the hell happened?"
"The situation is under control."
"She won't see me, but she'll see Morgan Winthrop?"
"Dr. Winthrop," the nurse dropped her pretense that Grant couldn't possibly be privy to the details of what had transpired. "Has attending privileges at this hospital. He "
"Abused his privileges to torment a sick woman for reasons having nothing to do with the Hippocratic Oath. The least you can do is allow me to go in and calm "
"Ms. Hudson has been calmed."
"You mean she's been drugged!"
"She is being treated."
"Please," Grant lowered his voice. "She's all alone, she's terrified. She thinks everyone is against her that no one is left who still cares about her. She needs me. I'm I'm the only one who can talk her down when she gets like this."
"Ms. Hudson doesn't wish to see you, Mr. Harrison," she repeated, this time with a tinge of pity that, quite frankly, Grant found most devastating of all. "She has been most clear about that right from the start."
The last time Frankie had come to see her cousin at his office in the hospital, he'd worn a very similar, equally troubled look on his face. And it had turned out to be the beginning of a year of Hell for both of them. Frankie hadn't been able to put that conversation out of her mind ever since Jamie called asking to see her right away.
"I never really thanked you properly for everything you and Cass did during the whole Marley and Grant situation," Jamie began.
"No thanks necessary, we kind of owed you," she demurred, even as Frankie felt herself tensing up. You didn't start a mysterious chat with someone you'd been at odds with for the better part of two years by offering an apology unless you were trying to soften the blow to come. Or stalling. "I'm glad everything worked out. I was so happy to hear about the baby. Another Frame! And, of course, Felicia is over the moon. If she starts outfitting Devon in anything close to the outfits she's bought us for Lori Ann..."
"What?" she snapped, nerves at the breaking point.
"I wanted to talk to you. About Kirkland and Charlie."
"What about Kirkland and Charlie? I know things have been a little... Oh, no," Frankie thought she might be sick. "Is Charlie..."
"She's not pregnant," Jamie rushed to reassure, figuring Frankie, like Lorna, would jump on the most obvious catastrophe. "But something did happen."
"What?" Frankie pressed when Jamie hesitated.
"There was an altercation "
"A fight? They had a fight? That's what you wanted to talk to me about?"
"Not exactly. Charlie was upset with Kirkland for not.... He didn't want to have sex with her, okay? So Charlie got upset and attacked him."
"They had a fight," Frankie repeated, as if there was nothing else to say.
"She hit him, Frankie. She called him names and said there must be something wrong with him because he wouldn't sleep with her."
Frankie didn't know whether to laugh or...laugh.
"Kirkland told you this? And you believe him?"
"Kirkland doesn't lie. He wouldn't say this happened if it didn't."
"What exactly did happen, Jamie? Sounds like they had a fight. Teenagers in lust fight."
"She hit him and verbally attacked him because he wouldn't have sex with her."
"She was obviously upset at being rejected. Who wouldn't be? Especially when you're young and it's your first time..."
Remembering what Lorna said, Jamie offered, "If their positions were reversed, would you still feel the same way? Have the same reaction you do now?"
"Oh, my God," Frankie stared at her cousin in disbelief. "Are you accusing my daughter of what I think you're accusing her of?"
"I'm not accusing Charlie of anything. I'm telling you what happened."
"What Kirkland said happened. Your interpretation of what Kirkland said happened, which given your "
"Which given my past doesn't exactly make me unbiased," Jamie finished for her. "I know that, Frankie. I also know my son. He doesn't lie."
"Well, I know my daughter and she's not... she's not what you and Kirkland accuse her of being. This is all just some kind of misunderstanding."
"Then we need to clear it up."
"Meaning you need to talk to Charlie and find out what she thinks happened."
"Look, Jamie, I know Cecile put you through Hell, and that because of her you had to face some horrible truths about yourself, things that you're still working out. But, don't you dare project your issues with Cecile onto my daughter. Charlie is nothing like that woman, the mere idea after what she did to me and Cass.... I swear, if you ever, ever come to me again accusing my child of anything like what you've just "
"I won't come to you again," Jamie promised calmly. "The next time Charlie attacks my son, I'm going straight to the police. Let them decide how to handle it."
"It was the murder of Cecile DePoulignac in December of 2009 that first alerted the citizens of Bay City to the existence of a compound in Canada where, for the right price, an elite group of international criminals could make their problems disappear by making the people causing those problems... disappear," a grim-faced Jeanne recapped for the benefit of those watching at home.
"A file was found in Ms. DePoulignac's possession, incriminating KBAY-TV's own Donna Love in the kidnapping and imprisonment of Jenna Norris Frame eventually revealed to be the biological child of Ms. Love and her ex-husband, Carl Hutchins along with Mrs. Frame's husband, rock-star Dean Frame, and her adoptive mother, romance novelist Felicia Gallant.
"Authorities were unable to press charges against Ms. Love at that time, due to their inability to verify the reports' veracity, or ascertain the precise location of the compound.
"Prior to the 2010 election in which her former son-in-law, Grant Harrison, was running for Mayor, Ms. Love took to the KBAY airwaves and, in a Bay City version of If I Did It... Here's How, obliquely warned those in charge of the compound who might wish to punish her for exposing their existence to the outside world that she had painstakingly compiled a dossier detailing their extensive crimes, and wouldn't hesitate to release it to the authorities should any harm come to Ms. Love and her family.
"Earlier this year, Ms. Love's daughter, Marley Hudson, was officially ruled to have attempted suicide. Yet Ms. Hudson fervently insisted an attempt had been made on her life. The fact that, days later, the promised dossier arrived at the Bay City District Attorney's office seemed to confirm her assertion first documented by this reporter. Donna Love had taken her revenge. As a result of the newly surfaced information, international authorities were able to storm the Canadian compound and arrest at least some of those responsible for its creation. It is believed, however, that the very top officers managed to escape unscathed."
Jeanne paused, turning to watch the clip of Donna's talk show appearance, looking as engrossed as if she were seeing it for the first time, instead of having spent most of the night watching and re-watching until she'd selected the most provocative snippets.
"But this is where matters get even more complicated," she leaned in conspiratorially, taking the entire audience into her confidence. "In a secretly recorded interview, Donna Love confessed that her bravado had been a bluff. She'd never possessed a dossier capable of bringing down the compound. She'd merely claimed one in an attempt to protect her loved ones from inevitable retaliation.
"And if Donna Love did not create and dispatch the incriminating files, who did? And what might their motive have been?
"Comprehensive investigation reveals that Donna Love is telling the truth. In this particular scenario she was, indeed, a mere victim. KBAY has uncovered unimpeachable evidence that a third party, one determined to bring down the compound in order to cover up his own dealings therein, was, in fact, the one to forge and dispatch the dossier, using Ms. Hudson's suicide attempt which, under the circumstance, may well have been, as she initially claimed, an attempt on her life as the means by which to incriminate Donna Love for the exposure.
"In other words, the guilty party wished to have their cake and eat it, too. He wanted to neutralize his enemies at the compound and keep them from ever posing a threat to him again and, simultaneously, circumvent the revenge of those who might manage to avoid the authorities' dragnet by laying the blame for its downfall at the feet of Donna Love.
"It was a complicated, bold, yet ultimately, unsuccessful plan, conceived and heartlessly implemented by none other than Bay City's own... Spencer Harrison."
|Receive email notification every time www.anotherworldtoday.com is updated|