Following the uproar caused by Lucas' declaring in open court that he'd been in close touch with Lorna for the past three years, the judge called a recess, allowing the witness to step down so he could speak with his visibly frantic wife in private, informing Stacey that Lucas' testimony would remain a part of the record, despite her objection, and telling Kevin that Jamie was up next but they all needed a nice, long break, first.
Lucas and Felicia left the courtroom on the heels of the rest, ignoring the curious looks shot their way, moving stiffly, unable to meet each other's eyes until they were out of the hallway, squirreled away in a quiet corner. And, even then, there was so much to be said that neither could somehow summon up the strength to begin.
Finally, Felicia stammered out, "Three years, Luke..."
He nodded grimly.
"When I took you to see Lorna last year... We were standing in front of Lori Ann's incubator at the hospital, and I called Lorna to tell her to come, come now, quickly, her father was alive... She already knew? She'd known for three years?"
"Don't blame her, Fanny, please."
"I don't understand. I don't understand any of this."
"The years I was gone, I've told you, I bought my freedom back from some very, very bad people. And the price I paid... I couldn't involve you or Jenna. It was too risky."
"But you could involve Lorna!"
"Yes. And if you think I still don't wake up wracked with guilt over that, you're wrong. But I was losing my mind. I was forbidden from having contact with anyone from my old life. I was dying, suffocating. What's the point of living if you can't be with the people you love? With the ones who love you? I had to reach out, or I was afraid I might just decide to end it all. But, I couldn't do that to you. Because, as long as I was alive, there was a chance we might find our way back to each other. I needed a reason to keep going until I could figure out how to make that happen. So I went to Lorna."
"Why? Why her?"
"Because of what you said in that courtroom earlier. Because Lorna is strong, and she's a survivor, and I thought if anyone would understand and not judge the kind of work I was doing at that time, it would be her."
"You thought Jenna and I would judge you?"
"I didn't think either of you would be able to stomach what I'd been forced to become involved with. And I believed I had no right to ask."
"We would have given anything, done anything to have you back with us again."
"I didn't want to put the two of you in danger. Lorna, I thought, would know how to deal with my situation. And she did. The only thing it cost her was... you."
"What are you talking about?"
"You told me, remember, when you confessed to me about sometimes feeling like Lorna couldn't possibly be our lost baby, you told me how she'd deliberately pulled back from you, become distant, secretive, almost hostile. How long ago would you say that was?"
It took a moment for Felicia to understand what he was saying. "Oh, God..."
"It was me, Fanny. All my fault. Not yours. It wasn't anything you did. Lorna was so scared of accidentally betraying me that she cut herself off from you and Jenna. The reason you and she have been having such a hard time? I'm to blame."
"What do you know about Lorna Devon and Morgan Winthrop's hit and run?"
Grant blinked at Spencer's unexpected question, cocking his head with what he hoped was a sincerely surprised, yet not at all guilty look. Thankfully, he'd been about to take a draw off his cigar, which permitted Grant an unforced moment to study his father's face in a futile attempt to discern what exactly he thought he knew, and to stall answering.
"Nothing," Grant finally exhaled in a blue cloud of smoke. The old man was going to have to work for whatever he expected to pull out of him.
"Why is it always your first instinct to lie?" Spencer groaned in exasperation.
"Why is it always your first instinct to presume that I am?"
Spencer threw a file on the table between them. "A town car from your campaign was involved in an accident the same night as Lorna and Morgan. Lila was questioned by Chase Hamilton. That car is now in the possession of the Bay City Police Department."
"Still have your spies in the right places, I see," Grant shrugged casually while praying that this was the extent of his father's information. He looked Spencer dead in the eye. "I know nothing about Lorna's accident. Good grief, if I did, don't you think I'd say something? For old times' sake, if nothing else? Lorna was once very important to me."
"You're sure now?" Spencer pressed, not so much demanding Grant confess, but almost as if hoping that he would.
"What's going on, Dad? Why are you acting so determined to pin this on me?" Grant challenged, even as he realized that what he'd first taken to be concern and disgust on his father's face was actually... fear. And very few things were capable of scaring Spencer Harrison these days. "Are you somehow involved in this?" Deep down, Grant knew that was impossible. But, what what if it wasn't? Just for a moment, he allowed himself to hope for a miracle. Maybe Marley hadn't actually....
"In a matter of speaking," Spencer said, before cruelly dashing hopes he hadn't even realized he'd raised. "Lucas believes Lorna's accident may have been a message meant for him. And Carl. And, by extension, me."
"Payback for Donna," Grant surmised, despite knowing they were barking up a wrong tree.
"Carl wants to strike back before they have a chance to target anyone else. Rachel, Alice, Elizabeth, Cory, Kirkland..."
"Kirkland has nothing to do with this!" All of Grant's previous concerns paled in comparison to his horror now.
"He's my grandson. And Donna's. Carl's too, in a way. Objectively speaking, Kirkland is an ideal target."
"Then what the hell do you intend to do about this, Dad?"
"Carl wants me to join him in... neutralizing the problem."
"I presume you told him to go to hell? He's talking about a full-out underworld war. We're only potential targets now. If Carl has his way, I might as well draw a bulls-eye on my son's back!"
"You have no idea how sorry I am for all this, Grant."
"Don't be sorry. Think of a way out!"
"You were my way out," Spencer admitted regretfully. "I had my men look into Lorna's accident. When I saw that one of your cars was potentially involved... Covering up a hit-and-run, that's right up your ally. I was hoping maybe you knew what'd really happened. You could tell Carl this wasn't about him, and we might still be able to call him off."
Grant nearly gagged, his mind reeling at the realization that what had begun as a simple, instinctive gambit merely to protect Marley had spiraled out of control until.... He had to do something, say something, before matters deteriorated even further out of hand.
"Dad," Grant grasped at straws. "If all you need to appease Carl is a scapegoat "
"Why not manufacture one?" Spencer nodded thoughtfully. "I considered it. Ultimately, however, I'd be shooting myself in the foot. If Carl is right, and this was a direct attack, then I'm afraid the sooner he strikes back and obliterates the enemy for good, the better. Dangerous in the short run, safer in the long."
"But what if Carl's wrong? What if you go to war over a... a misunderstanding? What if Lorna's accident was a genuine accident?"
"Retribution is coming," Spencer said sadly. "Carl knows it. I know it. Lucas. Donna. You don't get away with the kinds of crimes we committed against people like that indefinitely. I didn't care before. Now.... Maybe it's better Carl's way. Take the initiative. Shoot first, and strive to deliver the deadly blow."
"This isn't like you. You've never been reckless."
"I've never had this much to lose." Spencer sighed, rising to leave, telling Grant, "I'm putting a 24-hour guard on Alice. I'd like to assign ones to you and Kirkland, as well, if it's alright with you."
"I can handle my own security. Kirkland, though... I'd have to tell Jamie. I can imagine how he'll react. He could forbid Kirkland from seeing either one of us ever again."
"My people know how to be discreet. I have no intention of letting Alice realize she's being watched. Trust me, neither Kirkland nor Jamie need be the wiser."
"Dad?" Grant stammered, the full reality of the situation striking him in wave after wave of wordless, suffocating panic. This was his last chance to speak up, quite possibly his last chance to protect his son. Marley would understand. Kirkland was her nephew, she loved him, too. She'd want Grant to do what was best for them all.
Spencer cut him off. "I realize I've spent most of my life saying this, but, I am so sorry I disappointed you, son. I sincerely hope you and Kirkland never know what that feeling is like. All I ever wanted was to make your way through the world easier. And instead, look at the mess I've left in my wake."
"I understand," Grant reassured him. "Matters have a way of getting out of your control, even with the best intentions. I... I understand."
"I'll make this up to you." Spencer gripped Grant's arm in both of his. "I will end this dirty business once and for all. I will die before I let anyone hurt my family."
"Olivia Matthews sends her regards." Donna announced airily, unfurling her yoga mat and deftly lowering herself to take a seat next to Marley inside the all-glass solarium they'd turned into a private exercise studio years earlier.
"Olivia?" Marley arched a brow, struggling to maintain her Downward Dog position and her previous state of Zen now that Donna was in the room. "Why would...? Oh. I'm guessing you've bumped into Sarah."
"Indeed, I have."
Marley craned her neck to check the clock on the wall. "The girl hasn't even been here twenty-four hours and already you've begun scheming up ways to have her booted off the property."
"I'm doing nothing of the sort," Donna shrugged as she began to stretch. "I merely alerted Olivia regarding her daughter's location. Mother to mother. As I suspected, she had no idea Sarah had fled the dorms. I also left word with Iris to update Dennis."
Marley entertained a smile even as her eyes narrowed. "Covered all your bases, did you?"
"If you mean did I inform the guardians of a girl staying in my house and thus becoming my legal responsibility? Then yes, I did."
"Sarah is my guest. She has nothing to do with you."
"It's still my house," Donna reiterated. "And seeing as how Steven has terminated his relationship with Ms. Matthews-Wheeler, I fail to see why I should be forced to indulge her. Iris tells me that Sarah lacks for nothing in terms of funds, including BCU room and board. If she did unexpectedly require temporary lodgings, surely Russ or Alice would have happily risen to the occasion."
Marley gave up on her position and turned to face Donna. "Sarah is going through a difficult time. After her arrest for helping Gregory "
"Another reason for me to have an aversion to her. Does that foolish child have any idea what she put John and Sharlene through?"
"Steven is my grandson."
"Well, it just so happens that your grandson treated Sarah abominably. She really loved him."
"Please, darling. At her age, one love affair is as good as another. Forgotten after ten minutes and half that number of vodka shots."
"Really? How old were you when you met Dad, again?"
Donna was willing to take a great many matters lightly. Michael Hudson did not happen to be one of them. "You can't seriously compare...."
"I'm not the one who started this discussion. All I said was, after the rough time Sarah's had lately, I wanted to support her. End of story."
"Am I to understand then, that after your nephew made it clear he wants nothing to do with this girl a decision for which I'm certain Steven had his reasons; Vicky's son is nothing if not logical to a fault you've seen fit to invite her right back into his life, all but forcing Steven to interact with her by making Sarah his sisters' new companion? I'm sorry, my darling, what gone astray detail am I not privy to? You barely know this young woman. Why the newfound intimacy? Granted, her repeatedly stressing how close she came to being your daughter..."
"It's a fact, Donna. Sarah hardly made it up to wiggle into my good graces. Just what do you think her stealthy motive is in all this?"
"She is currently residing in a guest room upstairs despite Steven deleting her name and number from his Blackberry. Truly, there is no logical reason for this girl to be in my house."
"There is no logical reason for you, either, and yet, here you are."
"This is my house and my family. Neither of which Sarah Matthews-Wheeler can lay claim to. Have you really thought about what her presence might do to Steven?"
"Oh, please, we both know this isn't about Steven. This is about you feeling threatened."
"Threatened? I've dealt with lint more intimidating than your bubbleheaded bosom chum. No, darling, what I am solely concerned about are the reasons behind Sarah's presence. Her reasons, and yours."
"She's here to watch the girls when I'm not able to."
"She's here to buffer them from me." It wasn't a question. "Honestly, Marley, this is the best you can do? Whatever happened to Grant as your self-described protector? He's much more my equal match than some teen-aged bimbo. If you truly suspect me of being up to something, wouldn't moving Grant in make a hell of a better deterrent than Sarah?"
"Involving Grant in this situation," Marley quickly, and rather weakly, defended. "Would be like pouring gas on a fire. I can handle you on my own."
"If that's the case, then Ms. Matthews-Wheeler can move out first thing in the morning."
"But, why? Why is this girl so important to you?"
"Isn't your daughter," Donna might as well have slapped Marley across the face.
"Only you would see my befriending a sweet girl whose parents all but abandoned her "
"I strongly suggest you speak to Olivia. Or Iris. Or your old flame, Dennis. You might well be enlightened to the contrary."
"I don't need to talk to them!"
"You don't want to talk to them," Donna quibbled. "Because then you might be reminded that Sarah isn't yours. She has a mother and a father and though once upon a time they may well have been their names are most certainly not Dr. and Mrs. James Frame."
"So that's your game?" Marley fought to hold back angry tears, knowing her collapse was precisely what Donna wanted. "First, you try to manipulate me using Steven. Then you bully me with Grant. Finally, you try to scare me by insinuating I'm living in some kind of fantasy world where Sarah actually did end up as my daughter. And you wonder why I brought in reinforcements to protect Michele and Bridget from the likes of you? Keep this up, and I may feel compelled to have a talk with your doctors. You know, the ones you're still required to see on a regular basis as part of your early release?"
"The fact that you're reacting this extremely tells me you're scared, darling," Donna countered, unfazed.
"My God, don't you ever give up?"
"No. Not when something matters to me as much as you do."
"I think we've got everything," Dean declared with a great deal more confidence than he actually felt, glancing from the pint-sized suitcase Frankie had packed of Lori Ann's clothes and toys, to the larger one with her medical equipment.
Frankie buttoned the little girl's coat up to her chin, adjusted the hood and asked, "Ready to spend the night with your..."
She looked to Cass for help. They never had settled on an adequate moniker. He grinned at Dean and told Lori Ann, "Your Pops."
"Thanks, man," Dean told him.
"You be a good girl," Frankie instructed, faking her enthusiasm as much as Dean had his confidence. "You're going to have a fantastic visit. And then we'll come get you." She told Dean, "Call me if you have any problems. Or questions. Or concerns."
"I really appreciate this, Frankie. You giving me the chance to get to know her. Giving her the chance to get to know me," Dean swore, hugging Frankie quickly before stooping down to seize Lori Ann's hand. "You're the best."
"Yeah," she mumbled once both had gone and Frankie could peel the smile she'd donned for Lori Ann's sake off her frozen face. "St. Frankie of Bay City."
"I hope not," Cass turned Frankie around, taking her in his arms. "Because the activities I've got planned for our child-free evening are most definitely not... saint-like."
"What have you done with Charlie?"
"She's going to a friend's house after school to do homework at least that's the official story and spending the night. We've got the whole house to ourselves."
"Oh," Frankie said.
"Oh? Oh? That's not exactly the response I was hoping for. Well, okay, oh, does work under some circumstances. But, maybe with a different inflection..." He smiled.
"Frankie? What's wrong? What am I missing? Don't you want to be alone with me?"
"I love you, Cass."
"Not an answer."
"It's all I have." She pleaded, "We've been apart for so long. Not just physically, but... you said it yourself, there's this gulf, this emotional chasm between us."
"That I'm trying my best to fix!"
"By jumping into bed?"
"Not jumping. What jumping? Who said anything about jumping? You think I'm angling for some sordid quickie, here? Did you forget whom you were dealing with? I was thinking more along the lines of easing... slinking... gliding... seducing... When in doubt, go with what you do best, right?"
"That's what I'm worried about. You and I, we've never had any problems in that department."
"And this worries you?" he double-checked.
"Yes. It worries me because, whenever issues arise, we have a tendency to go with what we do best. And sweep everything else under the rug."
"We need to reconnect, Frankie. How are we supposed to fix our problems problems I certainly don't deny us having if we can't, if we won't get close again?"
"How are we supposed to get close truly, genuinely close again; not just going through the motions without tackling the issues that drove us apart in the first place?"
Cass sighed, "We've got quite the stalemate going, Mary Frances."
"I know. I'm sorry."
"Don't be. You know how I love a challenge."
"Actually, you like it best when everything comes easy."
"That's what I meant," Cass agreed.
"Amanda has told me the most interesting thing," Rachel began, stepping into Lila's room and closing the door behind them to make certain they couldn't be overhead.
"Is that a fact?" Lila injected so much lack of concern into her query that her obvious concern was nearly palpable.
"I understand you made the phone call that prompted the police to arrest Alice Frame."
Lila peered up guiltily at Rachel, saying nothing.
"Why, Lila?" her former mother-in-law wondered.
"Because. Kevin treated me like garbage and she's his Grandma, and "
"No," Rachel interrupted. "Why did you take the blame for something I know you didn't do?"
"Oh," Lila said. And then she confirmed, "So it was you?"
"You must have known that all along."
"Well, not exactly all along. I just went through the process of elimination and..."
"Same as Amanda. Only she didn't realize you'd filled me in about Alice. She assumed you had to be the guilty party."
"It didn't exactly upset her."
"No. But, you could have, by setting her straight."
"I didn't know for sure."
"I think you did. I think you accepted the responsibility in order to protect me."
"No! That's not it at all! When Kevin first asked me if it was true, I was just so sick of him constantly panting after Amanda every chance he got those two have some serious unfinished business and I'm tired of always being in the middle of it. He wants to believe every word out of her mouth? Let him. I'm getting off that merry-go-round. What do I want with a guy who truly thinks I'd go after his grandmother just to get back at him?"
"So your objective was merely to rattle Kevin?"
"And..." Rachel prompted, making it clear she wasn't biting.
"And..." Lila conceded. "To protect you."
"That was very kind of you, Lila, but, I assure you, I don't need "
"I owe you," Lila insisted. "You've been so nice to me ever since I split with Cass. Well, I mean, you were nice to me before, but this was above and beyond the call. You didn't just let Jasmine and I stay here, you never treated me like I was in the way, either. You talked to me and you listened and you gave me advice; good advice, even if I wasn't always smart enough to take it. You were my friend. And you were... you were... kind of... like a... real mother. Or what I imagined a real mother was like, anyway." Lila ducked her head, mustering the courage to birth that final word, scared and embarrassed but also hopeful, too.
Rachel crouched down until she could lift Lila's chin with her hand and look her in the eye. She said, "You know I think of you as my daughter."
Lila smiled, determined to keep it classy and not get teary-eyed. She nodded gratefully instead, not trusting her voice.
"And you should also know that I am not in the habit of hiding behind my children. My misdeeds are my liability, no one else's. I called the police to inform them about Alice because, without her, my grandchildren faced the possibility of going to prison. Chase Hamilton made it clear that if he had the doctor who'd helped them in custody, he'd go easier on the kids. Amanda proved obviously incapable of doing the right thing. That left me. And I expect to explain myself explain, not defend in precisely those terms."
"It's just such an awful time for your family right now! I mean, you and Amanda aren't seeing eye to eye "
"That's nothing new and, again, not your burden to carry."
"But, also Jamie. He's got his hands full with Lorna and Morgan. He and Alice are good friends. He finds out what you did, it it's not going to be pretty, Rachel."
"Only if Jamie decides that Alice is more important than his son. And, especially under the current circumstances, I don't see Jamie doing that."
"Also, Allie and Steven. They were willing to go to jail for her."
"That's because they're young and sheltered and arrogant, and they have no idea what jail actually means. I do. I'd be happy to share my experiences in great detail. Let them know what precisely I was saving them from."
"I'm just saying, opening up this can of worms would spill out a lot of fighting and troubles you all just don't need at the moment. It's going to take what's already bad and make it a thousand times worse."
"I can take care of myself," Rachel reassured.
"I've got no doubt," Lila agreed. "Question is, should you?"
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