"On April 29, 2010, Ms. Fowler, did you, as the biological mother, sign papers giving up parental rights to the newborn now known as Hudson Lewis Bauer?" Mel asked Allie, reminding her that she was in a court of law and under oath.
"Yes," Allie said, nodding her head for good measure.
"At that time, did the late Gregory Hudson also sign papers claiming to be the child's biological father?"
"Was he, Ms. Fowler?"
"Did you know that fact at the time of the adoption?"
Allie hesitated, looking from Sarah, who was doing her best to give the universal signal for "Lie, Allie. Lie and keep lying until they catch you. Then lie some more," to Kevin, who was subtly shaking his head, begging Allie not to do it. Between them sat Amanda, seemingly unsure of what would be best, and settling for a general appearance of regret.
"I I did."
At that, GQ's expression hardened. He flopped back in his chair, arms limp at his sides, simultaneously disgusted and disbelieving. Up until the very last moment, a part of him still hoped that Allie had at least made an honest mistake, rather than consciously lying to him all along. Now even that fantasy was gone for good. From behind him, Jen reached over to stroke GQ's shoulder soothingly, while glaring at Allie, equally disgusted.
"So, you knowingly committed fraud?"
"I wanted what was best for Hudson."
"Please answer the question."
"GQ didn't think Hudson was his," Allie said.
At that, he sprung forward, ready to yell out his denial, until Allie quickly clarified, "GQ was there when Hudson was born. He saw him. He didn't think Hudson was his."
"That's hardly relevant."
"GQ was happy Hudson didn't look anything like him. He didn't want him."
"Didn't Mr. Todd, in addition to repeatedly asking you, once go as far as following you to your sonogram appointment, precisely so that he could determine whether or not the child was his? Did he not take you to court, and only dropped the petition for a fetal blood sample after he learned it could potentially put the baby at risk? Do those sound like the actions of someone who didn't want his son?"
"He wanted to know," Allie parsed. "But, he didn't want it to be true."
"And how would you know that, Ms. Fowler?"
"Because. He didn't want me."
The only reason Mel didn't break out into a Cheshire grin in response to Allie's statement or Kevin groan and bury his head in his hands was because such reactions would have been unprofessional for both.
Instead, Kevin merely clutched his pen tightly, nearly ripping the lined, yellow note-pad he'd been scribbling on, while Mel, her expression not at all gotcha asked Allie, "Is that how it is? Is that why we're here? This is all simply your way of striking back at Mr. Todd for rejecting you?"
"No..." Allie looked pleadingly at Kevin. He raised both palms off the table, gesturing for her to just stay calm. And preferably quiet. "That's not what I meant. I'm not doing this because GQ didn't want me. He told me. He said it was because I'm white. That was the only reason. Otherwise.... If he doesn't want me, how could he want Hudson? Hudson is white, too. Look at him."
"That was hardly your decision to make," Mel said. "Do you understand what you've done, Ms. Fowler? Not just to Mr. Todd, or to Dr. and Mrs. Bauer, but Hudson, too? The law unequivocally states that Mr. Todd did nothing wrong, that he has every right to his son." Mindy whimpered in response to Mel's words. Rick wrapped his arm around her, squeezing reassuringly and kissing the top of her head. "Under the circumstances you've confessed to, there is just no way that Hudson can stay with the Bauers."
"But, I thought that's what we're here to decide?" Allie turned to the judge. "Why is Ms. Boudreau making it sound like a done deal? Aren't you supposed to listen to everybody and then rule on what's best for Hudson? Staying with Rick and Mindy is what's best for Hudson. I'm his mother. Don't I get a say?"
"You signed away those rights," Mel reminded. "Mr. Todd didn't. End of story."
"Cowering, Carl?" Felicia inquired upon storming out of the Cory mansion and finding Rachel's husband outside, nearly obscured by his prize rosebushes that grew along the edge of the property.
"I've stayed alive this long by painstakingly picking and choosing my battles. I know better than to get between a pair of mothers on the warpath. My interference would have merely aggravated the situation."
"The same way you and Rachel telling me that Lucas was alive would have?"
"Damn it. If I have to hear that self-serving justification one more time..."
"You might begin to believe it?" Carl suggested. "A year ago, my dear, you were in a most precarious emotional state. Your incarceration, the stress of witnessing Jenna's deteriorating medical condition.... There is only so much a person can absorb and process."
"I'd have managed," she insisted. "It wasn't up to you and Rachel or Cass to decide."
"Cass and Rachel found themselves in a position of either risking your trust, or your well-being. They made the unselfish choice, knowing full well all the while what the consequences might be for them. They acted in your best interests. If anyone is to be cast as the villain in this piece, you need not look any further than Lucas, himself."
"Lucas was a victim!" Felicia protested.
"He had choices. He made them. Not only for himself, but for you and Jenna, and for Lorna, as well. Think of the position he put her in. Lying to you, not to mention the potential danger. The burden of a parent should never be loaded upon the shoulders of their children, and yet Lucas appears to have done so with impunity."
"No," Felicia insisted. "Not Lucas. The real villain is and always has been Donna. She's the one who drove Lucas, Rachel, Cass and I to make decisions we never would have made under normal circumstances. When is that woman going to pay for all she's done? For all the lives she's ruined?"
"You said that months ago. You promised to drive a big enough wedge between Marley and Donna to ensure she'd know what it felt like to lose a daughter. You said you'd make it so that rift could never be mended. What happened, Carl? What happened to your plan? Donna is back at the mansion with Marley!"
"That means nothing," Carl dismissed. "Bridget and Michele told Jasmine that Marley went so far as to ask Sarah to move in, to make sure Donna never has unfettered access to the children. And she and Marley hardly speak."
"That's it? That's the extent of her punishment? Donna's daughter being in a snit?"
"Step One, Fanny. Merely Step One. The ultimate restitution is yet to come. All the pieces are being put into play as we speak. Donna will know the pain of losing a daughter, you may count on it."
"Wonderful. More generalities. How about indulging me with a detail or two?"
"I'd best not. Future plausible deniability and all that."
"I don't care about deniability. In fact, when Donna is finally made to pay for everything she's done to my family, I want her to know exactly who is responsible for every moment of her agony. I want to be able to look her in the eye, helpless and terror-stricken, as her whole world comes crashing down around her."
"Done," Carl said.
She waited for what felt like every doctor in the hospital, including Chief of Staff Russ Matthews himself, to pass through her room, to poke her and to prod her and to ask her questions and command her to look at their pen-light as they clucked their tongues and moved it from spot to spot.
She waited for her blood to be drawn and her vital signs to be measured and the portable evaluation equipment to be wheeled in, used, and wheeled out again.
She submitted to every single test and answered every inquiry many several more times than could possibly be considered necessary. Because, the entire time all that commotion was going on, Lorna merely kept her eyes pasted on Jamie.
He stood just outside the swarm of specialists, far enough that he wouldn't be in the way, close enough so he could watch everything being done. The only exception was when the OBGYN passed through, hooking up the sonogram and pivoting the monitor Lorna's way, so she could see for herself the sepia colored, three dimensional human being with arms, elbows, legs, feet, fingers, ears, and an actual face looking right back at her.
Jamie craned his neck around the doctor then, straining for a peek. He caught Lorna's eye, the two of them exchanging wordless looks of disbelief, mixed with awe and, ultimately, unspeakable relief.
At least on Lorna's part. Jamie, however, more than any of the other MDs asking her to perform the same tricks speak, read, point, wiggle, turn, identify; if somebody dared ordering her to fetch, Lorna planned to let them have it over and over again to insure the first result wasn't a fluke, Jamie still seemed terrified that this was all some sort of mistake. That Lorna seemed better than she actually was and, if Jamie so much as glanced away for a second, the miracle would crumble.
Lorna had no intention of that happening.
Instead, she bid her time until the medical inquisition was finally over for now; they all promised to be back soon and she and Jamie were finally, thankfully, mercifully alone.
With great effort, ignoring the unsteady, cramping soreness, Lorna inched over her hand enough to allow Jamie to clasp it as he pulled up a chair to sit by her bedside, the two of them, at long last, face to face.
"What..." Lorna screwed up her courage to ask. "How long was I... out?"
He cringed, admitting, "It's almost the end of February."
"The end of... Are you serious? That means... the accident, it happened, it was on your birthday? All this time... God, Jamie. Poor you."
"Poor me?" He almost laughed as he stroked her palm, ecstatic to have Lorna capable of squeezing back. "You're the one who was hurt."
"But, you're the one who had to deal with... everything."
"Doesn't matter. You're okay. That's all that I care about. You're okay."
"I'm sorry I didn't tell you about the baby. I was going to. I swear. Your birthday... I had it all planned. I was going to tell you then. You must have been wondering what the hell was going on. I can't imagine what you thought I was up to."
"I did wonder," he brought her hand to his mouth, kissing it between every word. "And I won't lie, I was dying to say something, to tell you that I know, to tell you how thrilled I was. Especially the night of Alice and Spencer's wedding. But, you were so miserable. I figured it wasn't the right time to get into it."
"I felt like crap," Lorna agreed. "But, I was so happy that night, too, Jamie. All I could think about was your baby growing inside of me. I already loved her so much. And I loved you so much, and I couldn't wait for the three of us the five of us; Steven and Kirkland, too to be a family. But, I just needed to take care of one thing first...."
Lorna's voice trailed off as a noise from the doorway caught both their attentions.
Morgan stood there, breathing heavily, as if he'd run the entire way to her room. He'd come to a hard stop, suddenly unsure of what to do or say next.
Lorna looked at him, and then she looked at Jamie, who rose slowly from his chair.
Even with his back to Lorna, she could still recognize in the sudden stiffness of Jamie's body language. "You know..."
Having just finished approving the press release his Fathers' Rights Task Force was sending out in support of GQ Todd's first day in court, Grant looked up from his home computer, pleasantly surprised, as he heard Marley's key click in the lock of his front door.
He stood and walked around the side of his desk, ready to say hello, when Marley apparently decided she had other, much more urgent uses for his lips at the moment.
Being a gentleman, Grant rose to the challenge.
She led him upstairs, pulling off her own clothes before they even made it onto the bed, expecting Grant to do the same.
He kissed the back of her neck and Marley's shoulders, spooning up alongside her and entering her from behind, his free hand snaking around her hip to stoke Marley from the front while the arm beneath her head cupper her breast, thumb and forefinger kneading the nipple, until she could no longer tell where one sensation ended and another began.
Marley drove herself against him, eyes closed, teeth clenched to hold back the growls, the groans. Then, abruptly, she jolted still with a long, slow, hiss, her head and shoulders slumping forward as she rolled over, first onto her stomach, then her back.
It wasn't until Grant heard the shower turning on in his adjacent Master bathroom, and he was sitting up wearily, rubbing his eyes with the palms of both hands, trying to wrap his head around what exactly had just happened here (could it qualify as a drive-by?), that he realized from the moment she came in, Marley hadn't said a single word to him.
"I'm here," Matt informed Jeanne across their table at TOPS. He lifted a crystal tumbler and sloshed the clear liquid inside it around for effect. "I've got my drink. Ready to tell me what this is all about?"
Jeanne smiled and set down her menu. "Let's order, first."
He shrugged, but nevertheless did as she suggested.
They made small talk until the food arrived, Matt asking after Larry and Clarice, hearing that they were doing swell out in Wyoming. He inquired about Blaine and Sandy next, only to have Jeanne remind that her aunt and uncle were his family, too.
"I don't really know Sandy that well." Matt signaled the waiter for a refill of his drink. "I was a kid when he and Blaine left town. I actually got better acquainted with Maggie while she flew through Bay City, what, was it fifteen years ago? But, we don't really keep in touch, either. How'd she handle the whole thing... Cecile? Cass? I mean, she thought he was her dad for a while there. Couldn't have been easy to find out he'd killed her mom. No matter how many problems Maggie and Cecile had between themselves."
"I don't know," Jeanne admitted. "Maggie and I never had what you'd call a cordial, cousin-ly relationship. Your niece is a real, little bitch, Matt. At least, she always was to me while we were growing up. We used to visit them in California almost every summer. I think I was barely off the plane each time before Maggie was dragging me to her room, showing off her clothes and her toys and her pony and her playhouse, complete with miniature recording studio. When they'd come out to see us in Wyoming, all I ever heard was, "How come you don't have this, Jeanne? How come you don't have that, Jeanne? Don't your mom and dad love you? My mom and dad sure do love me!"
"Right. That's why she ran away from home without telling either one of them where she was going."
"That particular nuance," Jeanne noted. "Was somewhat lost on my ten year old, green-eyed monster self."
"From what I remember, Maggie had no idea who she was or what she wanted out of life. I suspect you don't suffer from a similar problem."
"Whatever gave you that idea?" Jeanne smiled innocently, placing a napkin on her lap in anticipation of digging into the Lobster Coquille St. Jacques, the most expensive item on TOPS' menu.
"You told me to be here? I'm here. We've got our drinks; we've got our dinner. Let's hear it, Jeanne. What do you know about Donna, and Lorna's accident?"
"I know that Donna isn't telling everything she knows."
"There's a second tape of Grant's election day. She didn't turn it over to the police."
"And they didn't arrest her?"
"Donna gave them the tape from the main camera. It never occurred to them to ask if there was also one for B-roll."
"Have you seen it?"
"No. Donna withdrew it from the tape library as soon as the cops came around with their court orders. And gave me a promotion to keep me from snitching."
"So why are you telling me?"
"Because. I think I can do better here."
Matt downed the remainder of his drink. "And you wonder why I suspected you didn't have any problem knowing what you wanted out of life. Or going after it." Already guessing the answer in advance, he ventured, "I don't suppose it ever crossed your mind to go to the police with this information?"
"I could be wrong. It could be nothing. A red herring."
"Then why the promotion?"
"Donna is big on rewarding talent."
Jeanne added, "Besides, I don't know where the tape is, physically. Donna might have destroyed it by now. And she made sure there was no record of its existence. It would be my word against hers. Why would I risk that for nothing?"
"What do you think could be on that tape? We know Grant wasn't driving the car. He was on camera all day and, besides, Donna wouldn't sound the alarm if he were about to be squashed by an oncoming train, much less risk her own safety to protect him. Marley and Kirkland are accounted for, too. They're the only ones she might go to the mat for, but they were right there at Grant's side."
"My guess? It was someone connected with KBAY. We had people coming and going all day, lots of shift-changes. I couldn't even give you a full accounting, and I was there. I think it was one of our employees, or maybe a free-lancer, and Donna is afraid of being sued and losing the station, if the truth comes out. KBAY-TV is really all she has left these days."
"Yeah, well... That's a whole different story."
"Not really," Jeanne said. "Not if you can use it to figure out what exactly happened that night."
Cass yearned for a nun's outfit.
Not because it would come in particularly handy at the moment. But, because it didn't seem right to be engaged in a wacky break-in without one.
It also didn't seem right to be doing it alone.
But, he'd given Lila his word. And so, without informing Frankie, Cass had snuck out and was now standing outside the Auto Body-Shop that had so thoroughly reconstructed Grant's rented campaign car. The one that had probably hit Lorna and Morgan. Only nobody could prove it anymore.
Cass had no doubt the police had already scoured the place, as well as subpoenaed any records connected to the project. He also had no doubt that Toni Burrell would have no interest in sharing whatever they'd discovered with him.
So that left only one option. And, Cass had to admit, it was kind of his favorite one. He had to break in and get a look at the original work order.
Unfortunately, the front door was way too exposed, facing the street. Cass suspected a man on his knees, picking the lock, would attract unnecessary attention. He hadn't been out of jail for so long that he was jonesing to relive the experience.
On the other hand, the back of the shop, the lot where they left their cars overnight, was relatively deserted. The only thing standing between Cass and Step One of his Breaking and Entering Agenda was an eight-foot high, chain-link fence.
Luckily, Cass knew how to climb.
Unluckily, his favorite, black, cashmere, turtleneck sweater, did not. He gazed sadly upon the gash torn down its middle by a protruding, sharp stick of metal during Cass' swifter than he'd intended descent to the cement below.
"Alas, poor Yorik," Cass sighed, "I knew him, Horatio. He hath bore me on his back a thousand times. My gorge rises at it," and silently promised the garment a hero's funeral.
Cass turned toward the main building, eyeing the back door and professionally assessing whether or not it might be alarmed.
He was prepared to take his chances, when the sound of a car door opening and closing let Cass know he most definitely wasn't alone on the lot.
Damn it. How could he have been so stupid? He really was losing his touch and not just with the ladies, as Carl had implied the other night. (Yes, Cass was still smarting from the insult.) How could he have missed a security guard or a night-watchman or...
"Fancy meeting you here..."
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