“Go to Hell, Donna,” Lorna ordered, turning her back on the woman, heading back to Jamie and Devon… when the look on her husband’s face, not to mention Morgan and Felicia’s, forced Lorna to waver just a little. “What? What is she talking about? What’s going on?”
“Leave.” Lucas grabbed Donna by the elbow, pulling her towards the door. “Now.”
“I’ll leave when Lorna tells me to leave,” Donna insisted sweetly.
“The directions to Hell earlier weren’t clear enough?” Jamie seethed.
Lorna pivoted in her place, abruptly ordering, “Fine. Say your piece.”
“No!” Felicia interjected, warning Donna, “You don’t want to do this.”
“I do,” Donna corrected. “I honestly and genuinely do.”
“Then go ahead,” Lorna snapped. “Get it over with. Say whatever you came to say, then go back to your pathetic, miserable, friendless existence, and leave the rest of us to enjoy our celebration.”
“You heard the lady,” Donna advised Felicia, Lucas, Morgan and Jamie. “Lorna wants to hear what I’ve got to say.”
“Lorna,” Jamie said softly. “Don’t let her do this. Don’t give her this power over you.”
“I’m not,” Lorna insisted, putting up a much braver façade than she actually felt, but resolved to see this through to the end. “I’m actually doing the exact opposite. I’m showing Donna there is nothing she can do to hurt us. Let her do her worst, blow her wad; it’s the only way to be rid of her once and for all.”
“Listen to Jamie, Lorna,” Morgan pleaded.
“Talk fast,” Lorna commanded Donna.
“With pleasure.” Donna cooed. “It’s not a very complicated story, really. Girl meets boy, girl claims to love boy, girl turns out to be secretly married to someone else. Quelle Horreur!”
“I’m sorry, Donna, did you just sweep in here to make a grand pronouncement about something everyone in this room – not to mention me – already knows?”
“Patience,” Donna counseled. “Just because it’s a simple story is no reason to deny it some semblance of narrative flair.”
“Speaking of flares, I’ve got a few out in my car that could finish up the job I stared on your drapes.”
“How delightfully psychotic of you. Alright then, if you insist, I shall fast-forward to our thrilling climax. The one where Jamie has to go to court against Morgan and Felicia – “
“Another fact I already know.”
“To keep them from aborting your baby.”
“Donna!” This time, Matt didn’t bother whispering, his plaintive cry ricocheting through the hall like a bullet.
She strode by him stoically, looking anywhere but Matt’s way, even if the shocked looks on Bridget and Michele’s faces – she should have guessed they’d be here! – did nearly cause Donna to miss a step. Nevertheless, she was determined to make her grand exit in style, exactly the way she’d first planned.
What Donna hadn’t counted on was Matt breaking away from the rest of the stunned witnesses and chasing her into the parking lot, demanding “What the hell?”
“No one hurts my family and gets away with it, Matthew,” Donna told him primly.
“Likewise,” he reminded his wife.
“Rachel thanked me today,” Lila told Chase. “For sticking by her.”
“Excellent. We’ve got Mrs. Hutchins right where we want her.”
“The last place I want Rachel is in a position where I’m forced to lie to her.”
“I beg to differ. The last place you want Mrs. Hutchins – or any of her children, or grandchildren, especially Jasmine – is six feet under.”
“Low blow, Your Excellency.”
“But effective. I’m not asking you to deceive your former mother-in-law – “
“For the sole purpose of my amusement. I’m asking you to do it in order to save her life, along with everyone else’s.”
“By helping you entrap her husband.”
“Entrapment happens to be illegal. I intend to catch Carl Hutchins fair and square.”
“And then what?”
“Give him a fair trial. And hang him.”
Lila groaned and sunk into a chair, dropping her head in her hands. “I hate you for this.”
“No, you don’t. You know I’m fighting the good fight.”
“On the side of the angels, are we?” Lila smirked, before it almost turned into a sob.
“Absolutely.” Chase said. “Jasmine’s side.”
Lila stared at him in a combination of admiration and disgust. “Think I’m beginning to see why you had such a good run there in the courtroom.”
“I am quick with a slick turn of phrase, I’ll grant you that.” Chase pulled up his chair so that he and Lila were now sitting face to face. “But, I’ll tell you something else I’m good at. I’m damn good at putting bad guys away.”
“You’re sure you know what you’re doing?” Lila stressed. “You’re sure that Carl is a bad guy?”
“Carl Hutchins cut a swath of death and destruction across this continent and several others. He made a multitude of enemies, and he owes a whole host of debts itching to be collected – some in cash, some in flesh, some in blood. Those chickens already came home to roost once in Bay City, and at least one man is dead because of them. My job as mayor is to stop that from ever happening again. By any means necessary.”
“Is it true?” The effort of keeping her volcanic anger under some semblance of control was causing Lorna to shake furiously as she confronted Morgan, Felicia and Jamie in turn. “Is what Donna said true? Did the two of you try to – “
“It wasn’t that simple…” Felicia began.
“Your life was in danger,” Morgan added.
“Is…. It…. True?” Lorna roared.
“It’s true,” Jamie said quietly.
“And you never told me? None of you… Not one of you… You,” she focused on Jamie alone, the fury turning to horror. “You never told me?”
“Not here, Lorna,” Jamie pleaded. “I won’t do this in public. I promise I’ll explain when it’s only you and me. No audience. Let’s just go home.”
“No.” She shook her head. “I’m not budging until I get the whole story. Who did what to whom, and why?”
“Listen to me, darling,” Felicia reached out to her daughter, only to have Lorna jerk away, disgusted. “We were all so worried about you. We wanted to do anything and everything possible to make sure you pulled through.”
“How was getting rid of my baby – “
“Your body needed all of its resources to heal,” Morgan said. “The baby was taxing those resources, sapping your energy…”
“Lorna,” Jamie repeated in the same calm tone he’d been using all along. “Let’s go home. We can talk about everything then.”
“Why?” she spat. “Why should I?”
“Because. I’m asking you to.”
Lorna swiveled her head to look him in the eye. For a moment, the two of them did nothing more than study each other, warily, anxiously, hopefully, their communication silent, intimate, trusting. Finally, Lorna offered the slightest of nods. “Okay.”
“Okay.” Jamie exhaled. He took Lorna by the elbow and, still cradling Devon in his other arm, led his family out of the church.
Lorna paused by the door, glancing over her shoulder at Morgan and Felicia standing there, looking pleadingly her way. She opened her mouth as if to say something. Then changed her mind, shook her head, and left with Jamie.
“That bitch!” Morgan exploded. “What the hell? Who does Donna think she – What business is this even of hers, anyway?”
Felicia and Lucas exchanged guilty glances, both strongly suspecting exactly what had set Donna off and prompted her to seek revenge in such a manner.
“All because I wouldn’t let Marley get away with what she’d done?” Morgan continued raging. “Because I actually thought someone in that family should, just for once, actually pay for a crime they’d committed?”
“It’s okay,” Amanda peeled off from the rest of the crowd, who’d all been keeping their distance – and their tongues – while a family imploded in front of their eyes. “It’s okay, Morgan. Lorna will understand. Jamie will explain that you were only doing what you thought was best for her.”
“Jamie?” Morgan scoffed. “I’m supposed to count on Jamie to make things right? Jamie fought me every step of the way.”
“Not just you,” Felicia reminded, trembling as badly as Lorna had earlier, only not from fury, but from fear. “Me. Me, too. I backed you up. About all of it.”
“Let’s get out of here,” Steven whispered to Kirkland, signaling for his brother to grab Michele and Bridget and head for the car.
Everyone else followed their lead. Kevin approached Amanda, holding up his wife’s coat so he could help her slip inside.
Amanda shook her head. “I’m going to stay for a bit.” She indicated Morgan. “He looks like he could use a friend.”
Kevin’s expression didn’t waver.
“Do you mind?” she asked timidly.
“Not at all,” her husband reassured.
“Wow,” Charlie announced once she’d strapped herself into the back-seat, and double-checked that Lori Ann was safe and secure next to her. “That was exciting!”
“Not precisely the word I’d have chosen,” Cass mused over his shoulder as he backed their car out of the church’s parking lot.
“Did you know about it, Dad? I mean, I remember Uncle Morgan went to court to prove he and Lorna were married, but did you know that’s what he and Felicia wanted to do?”
“I did,” Cass clipped.
“Did you know, Mom?”
“I knew it, too,” Frankie admitted.
“Wow. That’s pretty intense. Did you guys agree with them?”
“Yes,” Cass said.
“No,” Frankie said.
The pair exchanged surprised looks.
“Guess you never discussed it while it was happening, huh?”
“I just assumed…” Frankie began. “I assumed you’d feel the same way I did.”
Frankie needed to get it straight. “You honestly thought it was okay for Felicia and Morgan to authorize surgery on Lorna without her consent?”
“It was for her own good!”
“That’s what the government once said about lobotomies. And sterilizing the so-called feeble-minded. You’re talking about eugenics!”
“And you’re offering a histrionic straw-man argument that bears very little relevance to the point at hand.”
“That’s lawyer-ese for: You got me there,” Charlie helpfully explained to her little sister, who truly could not have been less interested.
“Your mother does not got me there. Or anywhere, for that matter. She is suggesting that the hypothetical opinion of a woman in a coma – a figure which meets every, single legal definition of not being able to make a sound decision in her own interests; primarily due to being in the aforementioned coma – Your mother is suggesting that the presumed opinion of this woman should carry more weight than that of a medical professional, and her closest relative.”
“Morgan and Felicia were hardly unbiased sources.”
“They’re not supposed to be! They love her, they were doing what was best for her!”
“Against Lorna’s wishes. They both had to know that.”
“So what? Felicia was fighting to save her daughter. Her only living daughter. She was doing the exact same thing as Jamie, and you seem to believe he was in the right.”
“Jamie was fighting for what Lorna wanted.”
“No. He was fighting for what he believed Lorna would want. Everyone was. Jamie thought Lorna would want to keep the baby. Felicia thought Lorna would want to live.”
“Not at her child’s expense!”
“If Lorna had died pregnant, the baby would have died with her. And for a while there, things really were not looking good. Felicia barely had a choice. When it comes to your kid, there is no such thing as a desperate measure that’s off the table. You try anything and everything, and you never quit until you’ve accomplished your goal.”
“At what cost?” Frankie wondered. “Fighting to keep Lorna alive may end up costing Felicia the same daughter she battled so hard to save.”
“I didn’t ask for a chauffeur,” Morgan told Amanda dismissively after she insisted on escorting him home, proclaiming Morgan too upset to drive. “Or a baby-sitter,” Morgan added when his unwanted bodyguard appeared in no hurry to leave his apartment, either.
“How about a friend?” Amanda suggested, unoffended.
“Oh, yeah, guess I do have an opening for one of those, since the person currently occupying the position is very likely never speaking to me again.”
“It’s okay to have more than one friend,” Amanda advised.
“That you used to sleep with?”
“Okay, so that’s a shorter list. But, obviously you and Lorna pulled it off.”
“Lorna and I pulled it off, because, for a good long while there, we were just about the only ones who could stand each other.”
“Sounds like a great basis for friendship.”
“Mutual, pathetic neediness?”
“I’ll tell you why not,” Morgan sighed tiredly. “Because, one day, the scale tips, and one of you ends up needing the other more. As long as the seesaw keeps creaking up and down, the balance might still work. When it doesn’t…. “
“You miss her.”
“Damn right, I miss her. And damn Jamie for taking her away, damn Donna for making the situation permanent effective today, and damn you for sitting there and staring at me so damn sympathetically.”
“Are you done?” Amanda wondered.
“No. I still have a river and some torpedoes to damn, full speed ahead.”
“I can wait.”
“You to feel better.”
“Then you’d best prepare to hunker down for a nice, long stay.”
“Okay,” Amanda shrugged.
Morgan smiled for the first time in hours. “That last one was supposed to scare you off.”
“I’m kind of tough to spook.”
“You are tough, Amanda.” The fight drained out of Morgan as he settled down next to her. “I’ll give you that.”
“Not really. It’s just an outfit I put on every morning, along with my make-up and perfume and designer suits.”
“You do look nice in your make-up and your designer suits,” Morgan continued his trail of thought. “And you do smell nice with your perfume.”
“Morgan…” Amanda sensed a second too late where this was headed. And moved more than a second too late to stop it.
“You taste nice, too,” he whispered, catching Amanda’s lips with his, kissing her until she ran out of objections. Or pithy comments.
“I never meant…I never believed you would end up blindsided like this,” Jamie began after he and Lorna had arrived home and put Devon down for a nap, allowing the two of them to finally talk.
“Well, given that everyone in town except me was apparently already in the loop, I’m shocked it didn’t happen sooner,” Lorna fumed bitterly.
“We were all on the same page, agreeing that it would do you no good to know.”
“Donna must’ve missed the memo. Or tossed it. Which, considering I tried to flambé her, I can totally understand. The thing is, after I woke up, I saw the tension between you and my parents. I knew you were hiding something… holding something back…I let you not tell me. I didn’t want to know, so I didn’t push you too hard.” Lorna lifted her eyes to meet Jamie’s. “But, now I need to know what really happened. We can’t just ignore it and pretend like we’re one big happy family anymore.”
“But, we are. And Devon’s at the center of it. What happened while you were in a coma isn’t relevant.”
“Morgan and my mother ganging up to kill our daughter is damn relevant to me, Jamie!” Lorna ignited. “Tell me what they did. All of it. Do not try and sugar-coat this.”
“You heard the bulk of the story this afternoon,” Jamie insisted. “There isn’t much more to tell. When you didn’t wake up like the neurologist expected, and when time continued to pass without much progress, we realized we’d need to get more aggressive with your treatment. Morgan’s stance was that your odds of pulling through would improve if your body could focus its resources exclusively on you.”
“Which meant an abortion?”
“It’s not unheard of in these kinds of cases. Morgan wasn’t out of line suggesting – “
“He was with me. He should’ve known that. My mother should’ve known that.”
“They were terrified of losing you. We all were.”
“But you knew that killing Devon wasn’t what I wanted. Why wouldn’t the doctors listen to you instead of Morgan? Why – ” Lorna gasped as it hit her. “Because Morgan was my husband. Legally. He was – “
“Legally considered the father of your child. Which is why we had to go to court.”
Lorna paled. “So us losing Devon, that almost happened because of… me? Because I was stupid and didn’t come clean to you about Morgan? Because I didn’t trust you enough?”
“Except we didn’t lose her. Kevin did whatever it is Kevin is regularly paid millions of dollars to do, and we won. You’re fine, Devon’s fine…”
“Not for Morgan’s lack of trying. Or Felicia’s. Damn it, Jamie, Felicia, too?”
“Felicia supported Morgan’s stance as the best course of action to save you. She didn’t want to lose another daughter.”
“But she was okay with losing a granddaughter? I mean, I guess since she already had one in the bank with Lori Ann…”
“It was a difficult time. No one was one hundred percent confident. I’m not going to lie and say that I didn’t have my own doubts. I could’ve been wrong, too.”
“Stop trying to defend them! Stop denying to me and to yourself that you feel the same way I do about this!”
“Honest to God, Lorna, the moment you opened your eyes and I knew that you and Devon were going to be alright, nothing – nothing! – mattered to me anymore. The past was past. I never lied to you about that.”
“They tried to kill our daughter! How could you stand to look at either of them after that? How could you even be in the same room with them?”
“Because I love you more than I hate what they did, okay? You needed the people who you love and who love you around while you were recovering. Being supportive and not at each other’s throats.”
“Or maybe you just didn't want to deal,” Lorna accused.
“Or maybe I just didn’t want to deal,” Jamie was happy to agree. “After nearly going to prison for the rest of my life for a murder I didn’t commit, after finding a woman who knew every dark thing I’d ever done and still loved me in spite of it, after sitting at your bedside for months, wondering if you’d ever wake up, wondering if I might be raising our baby alone, you’re right, Lorna, I didn’t want to have to deal with any more crap. Not from your mother, not from Morgan.”
“Not from me,” Lorna realized guiltily. “You knew that once I found out the truth, I…I wouldn’t handle it well.”
“I was more worried about the stress adversely affecting your recovery. I didn’t want that. And I knew you wouldn’t want that, so I told you only what you needed to know.”
“And I let you. God, I feel like such a fool. When I think of everything since then… I can’t believe that my mother could dare look at Devon, hold her, act like she was thrilled to be her grandmother. That Morgan would actually accept when I asked him to be Devon’s godfather…”
“You are no fool.”
“Yes, I was. For believing that I mattered to Felicia. For believing Morgan was different.”
“Everything they did, they did because they love you.”
“I said stop defending them! I can accept that Morgan was on a power trip, looking to prove that he knew me best of anyone, he’d been on that kick ever since I told him about you and me. But, Felicia… This was never about me. This was about her. And Jenna. She couldn’t go through that again. She couldn’t relive her pain at losing Jenna, again.”
“Rest assured, I’m not about to appeal to you on Morgan’s behalf, but – “
“But what? What, Jamie? Are you seriously telling me that you think I should forgive Felicia?”
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