Not needing Jamie to confirm, Lorna painfully shifted in the bed, craning her neck to hiss at Morgan, "Why the hell did you have to tell him?"
Morgan stepped forward tentatively, avoiding Jamie playing interference between them to enlighten Lorna, "You were in critical condition. The hospital needed next of kin to sign off on your medical procedures."
"I have parents."
"They weren't here. I was."
"So was Jamie. He could have "
"Not by law," Jamie interrupted. "Not until I went to court."
"You did what?" Lorna demanded first of him, then Morgan. "You made Jamie go to court?"
Morgan opened his mouth to try and defend his actions, remembering the multiple warnings he'd received, most recently from Lila, about the impossibility of his task but determined to try, nonetheless, when Jamie cut him off.
His voice surprisingly dispassionate, Jamie told Lorna, "Morgan and I had a difference of opinion about your treatment options. When even a team of doctors here at the hospital couldn't reach a consensus, it came down to his wishes versus mine. In the eyes of the law, he was your husband and the baby's legal father "
Lorna groaned, realizing that all the things she'd thought she had to apologize for upon waking up were just the tip of the iceberg.
"I was the one who filed the petition with the court, not Morgan. In the end, they saw things my way. And now you're awake, and the baby is okay, and nothing else matters."
"Morgan still could have kept his trap shut," Lorna refused to take this as reasonably and calmly as Jamie seemed to be. If he declined to get incensed, she'd get incensed for him.
"Morgan did what he thought was best for you. The same way Felicia did."
"Felicia..." Lorna repeated her mother's name, certain she would not be happy with whatever Jamie chose to spring on her next.
"Felicia agreed with Morgan's course of action over mine. She said as much in court."
"My mother testified against you?"
"No," Jamie said, to Morgan surprise. "She testified for you."
"I cannot believe they forced you to defend yourself in court. "
"It doesn't matter," Jamie reiterated. "Listen to me, Lorna. You see that chair over there?" He indicated the corner. "I sat in that chair, hour after hour, day after day, week after week, and I made deals with myself, with God, with whoever is in charge of these things, and I promised that, as long as you and the baby pulled through, I wouldn't give a damn about anything that came before it. Do you understand what I'm saying?"
"I understand that you're being way, way too generous."
"No. I'm not. Your mother loves you." He swallowed hard. "Morgan loves you. I can't say that, in their shoes, I wouldn't have done the exact same thing because, Lorna, I did."
"Fine, then. Forgive them if you want. But, what about me? I betrayed your trust. All those months we were together, I didn't tell you about... him. And me."
"A head's up would have been nice, I'll admit."
"I can't believe you didn't just walk away as soon as you found out."
"Couldn't," Jamie said. "You had something of mine."
"Oh. Right," she winced apologetically. "The baby."
"That, too," Jamie agreed, then, bending over, whispered, "But, in this instance, I was actually referring to my heart." In response to the dismayed look on Lorna's face, he sighed, "I know, I know, you hate it when I get corny. Sorry I couldn't think of "
She grabbed his face between her hands, kissing Jamie so ardently that an uncomfortable Morgan felt obliged to cough into his fist, reminding them he was still in the room.
Neither one appeared to care. Though, after a moment, Jamie did disentangle himself enough to straighten up and pleasantly nudge Morgan, "I'll see you out."
It wasn't a suggestion or a request.
He escorted Morgan through the door and was about to return to Lorna when Morgan grabbed Jamie by one arm, pulling him back and letting the door swing shut. Unsure of what the proper response should be under the circumstances, and so vacillating between humility, confusion, and aggression, Morgan observed, "You were awfully magnanimous in there."
"Lorna just came out of a coma. She has a ton of recovery still ahead of her, not to mention physical therapy, constant monitoring, and a baby to deliver after all that. She doesn't need any undue or unnecessary shocks to the system. And she deserves all the support she can get. Especially from her mother and her... best friend."
"I'll grant her the divorce she wanted," Morgan swore. "Right away. Before the baby is born. I'll sign whatever you need about paternity, too. I swear."
Jamie just grunted. Morgan was promising something Jamie had long ago taken as a given. And his referring to the divorce Lorna wanted meant she'd asked him for one before despite what he'd testified in court.
"You could have told her everything," Morgan seemed incapable of letting the point go. "About Felicia and me and what we were willing to..."
"No," Jamie corrected. "I couldn't have. Because here is something you keep failing to understand, Winthrop; I love her a hell of a lot more than I give a damn about you."
Cass blinked, wondering if his inadvertently speedy descent over the chain-link fence and into the body shop's parking lot had not only taken a toll on his sweater, but on Cass' sanity, as well.
Despite making certain that the place was deserted. Cass could have sworn he'd just heard a car door open and close, and a voice observe, "Fancy meeting you here."
A voice that sure sounded like that of his wife.
Cass turned around slowly, still hoping for a concussion.
No such luck.
"Where the hell did you come from?" he asked Frankie, looking around, wondering if more people he knew were about to bleed out of the woodwork like a most unwelcome episode of This Is Your Life.
"There," she indicated the backseat of what Cass now recognized as their family car.
"Dean drove me," she explained helpfully. "Five minutes before closing time, he pulled up, told them he needed a tune-up. Dean offered to leave the car overnight, pick it up tomorrow. He and Lori Ann left. I didn't."
"Seriously? That was your brilliant plan?"
"Beats scraping my palms, skinning my knees, and communing with my sweater," she noted. "That was quite a tumble you took there."
"Why are you here?" Cass finally got to the heart of the matter, his previous questions merely serving as warm-ups.
"Why are you here?" she shot back.
"Now that I've lost my license to practice law, I'm on the look-out for a new profession. I thought I'd explore the exciting field of automotive repair. I've always looked snappy in coveralls."
"Morgan specifically asked me to keep it a secret from you." Frankie shook her head in disgust. "I go through all this trouble, pull Dean and Lori Ann into my illicit lifestyle, I've even got Charlie covering at home, and he still ends up cracking and telling you himself. Typical."
"What are you talking about? Morgan? I'm here because of Lila. And she asked me to keep it a secret from you."
"Because. She didn't think you'd appreciate my helping her out in any capacity. Why did Morgan "
"He didn't feel like getting another lecture from you about his involvement with Lorna."
"You're here because of Morgan?"
"You're here because of Lila?"
Cass said, "She thought I might be able to help figure out who hit Lorna. Lila feels responsible, since she's the one that inadvertently got the evidence destroyed."
"Morgan feels like finding out who hit them is the only thing he can still do for Lorna, now that Jamie has all but banned him from the hospital. He hired me to investigate."
"How much is he paying us?"
"Didn't you tell him that Winthrop & Winthrop are a team agency?"
"We're an agency now?"
""We've got a client. What else do we need?"
"And if I insist I work alone?"
"Then you leave me no choice." Cass stepped forward, smiling down at Frankie. "But to remind you of just what special skills I bring to any operation."
Matt walked Jeanne to her studio apartment door because it was the proper thing to do.
He kissed her back when she initiated because it would have been impolite not to.
And he allowed her to more or less rip his shirt open and fling Matt down on the bed that stood conveniently only a few feet past the threshold because... why the hell not?
He lay back and closed his eyes, allowing Jeanne's lips to wander from his mouth, down his neck, her tongue making intricate swirls and patterns along the particularly sensitive skin just below his chin, licking a little, nuzzling a little, humming a little...
It was all very, very pleasant, and Matt felt perfectly content to stay this way indefinitely. Jeanne, however, appeared to have other ideas.
Having dispensed with his shirt, she moved on to Matt's belt buckle, somewhat surprised to discover that, despite her preeminent efforts, he didn't seem nearly as... committed to their enterprise as she might have hoped.
Unsure of how to proceed and, in an attempt to cover up her own discomfiture, Jeanne scooted down Matt's chest, suckling one nipple while rubbing the other with her palm.
In between, figuring as long as they were already here and evidently nothing else was commanding his attention, she ventured, "I think you have the best chance of anybody to find out what Donna is hiding on that tape."
Matt snorted, "I'm the last person Donna would confide in. I'm also pretty much the last person she wants to see."
"But, does she want to see you with someone else, that's the question?"
He raised his head, looking down at Jeanne. It was the closest she'd gotten to a reaction since they'd started.
She ran with it. "Maybe, if Donna thought you were getting seriously involved with someone else, she'd start reconsidering her choice to let you go."
"Someone else," Matt repeated slowly.
"Yes." Jeanne's free hand trailed down his stomach, fingers intertwining in the fine, fair hairs around his navel, tugging just hard enough to arouse without hurting.
"I presume you have a candidate in mind?"
"I'm a big believer in killing two birds with one stone."
"And who am I in this case? The bird or the stone?"
Jeanne let the question pass unacknowledged. She allowed her hand to drift even lower, pleased to note that something had finally stimulated Matt's interest, if not quite his fervor just yet. But, that was all right. She'd never been afraid of going the extra mile. Jeanne was used to measuring her success in inches.
"You," she said. "Are quite possibly the only one who can convince Donna to let her guard down. It's one thing for her to cut you loose. But, if she sees you moving on, she might get desperate to regain your attention. If only so she can turn you down again."
"Oh, that sounds like a gay old time," Matt groaned. Though, when Jeanne shifted her weight and had to temporarily remove her hand, he did make a point of reaching for it and, without saying a word, restoring her fingers to their original position.
"You'll be a hero," Jeanne's tongue took over for her fingers, a switch Matt appeared to have no problem with. "Plus, it'd be your chance to teach Donna a lesson."
At that, Jeanne realized she might have pushed too far. Whatever progress she thought she'd made with Matt up to this point, shrank away and he sat up abruptly. "You think this is about me and Donna?"
"No no!" Flustered, Jeanne wasn't sure where to soothe first.
"I'm not some bitter, spoiled brat throwing a temper tantrum and acting all petty because I got dumped."
"Of course not," Jeanne agreed, deciding that ego was definitely the area that currently needed to be fluffed the most. Everything else could wait.
"Whoever hit Lorna and Morgan, what's to stop them from doing it again? That person needs to be taken off the streets, and if Donna knows anything "
"It's her obligation to come forward." Jeanne kissed Matt's shoulder.
Calming down somewhat, he reiterated, "It's not like I went looking to connect Donna to Lorna's accident. This isn't a case of me not being able to move on. You're the one who mentioned the tape. The idea of Donna being involved never even crossed my mind."
Seeing another place to score points, Jeanne played the honesty card, knowing that if she admitted to an ulterior motive in one area, people, more often than not, gave up looking for it in others. "I've been straight with you from the beginning, Matt. I told you why I got involved. A juicy scoop like this could really take me far in the world of TV news, I never pretended any different. But, your intentions have been pure from the start. You want to help your brother. You told me how it killed you to see him so broken-up. Don't let my cold-blooded careerism make you feel bad about yourself."
"Oh, come off it, Jeanne," Matt demurred. "You're not that bad."
"I just more or less suggested you pimp yourself out so I can get a news story."
"You did not. And don't be ashamed of wanting to get ahead. Everything you've got, you've earned. That's something to be proud of. Not like me. Even the things I like to say I've worked for, like C-Squared, none of them would've ever gotten off the ground without my family's money."
Jeanne smiled. "That's sweet of you to say, Matt. I promise, no more pity parties."
"You're right, Donna knows something. Something big. And we'll hardly find out what it is by coming out and asking her. Maybe a little subterfuge is the best way to go."
"My humble offer is still on the table." Jeanne swept her arms out broadly, palms down. Though not over the length of a table.
"You want us to fake a relationship in the hope of rattling and making Donna jealous enough to talk?"
"Who said anything about faking?" Jeanne asked innocently.
"Mr. Todd," Mel addressed her client first thing the next morning, once GQ was situated on the stand, Rick and Mindy watching him so closely it were as if they expected him to bolt, high-tail it to their house in Springfield, snatch his child from the boy's baby-sitting grandparents and disappear into the ether. "Why do you want to raise Hudson?"
"I'm sorry. I'm not sure I understand your question."
Kevin surreptitiously rolled his eyes. No attorney especially not one with both a J.D. and an M.D. would ever parade an un-prepped client before a judge. Which meant that GQ's professed confusion was part of an act. A good one, but an act, nonetheless.
A fact that became even more obvious as the allegedly baffled GQ promptly followed up with a rehearsed, eloquent, "If Allie and I were getting divorced, or even if we'd never been married in the first place, I'd be expected to take legal and financial responsibility for my son whether I wanted to or not."
"So then, is your claim on Hudson solely a matter of duty and societal responsibility?"
"No. Well, maybe in the beginning.... When I found out Allie was pregnant, I wanted to do the right thing. Even if...."
"Even if I was completely terrified. Suddenly, the life I planned for myself wasn't couldn't be that way anymore. Not with a baby. I was scared, but I knew I couldn't just walk away from my kid. So, as soon as I knew for sure, after Allie finally told the truth at Gregory's funeral, I filed a petition to get him back from the Bauers."
"Despite the fact that Dr. and Mrs. Bauer had given Hudson a good home? One where he was apparently happy and thriving?"
"I can't thank the Bauers enough for taking care of Hudson when Allie didn't want him."
At the harshness of GQ's words, Amanda snuck a quick peek at her daughter. But, Allie appeared unaffected by GQ's criticism. In response to her mother's questioning look, she reminded, "He's right."
"And if I wasn't around, I'd say Hudson was lucky to have adoptive parents like Dr. and Mrs. Bauer. But, I am. I'm Hudson's father."
"With Ms. Fowler out of the picture, you'd be raising Hudson as a single father," Mel noted.
"I'd hardly be the first guy in history. Mrs. Bauer was raised by a single father," GQ asserted, much to Mindy's surprise. Even as she had no doubt where GQ had come upon this information. "Dr. Bauer, too. I'm guessing they both think they didn't turn out too badly. Especially since they're here, claiming they'd make better parents than I would."
"The Bauers are older," Mel played devil's advocate so that GQ could have the chance to counter her arguments. "They're established in their careers, their community."
"If Allie had decided to raise Hudson herself, would her age have been an issue? And she's a couple of years younger than me."
"Do you know the first thing about taking care of a toddler?"
"Does any new parent? I realize I'm looking at a pretty stiff learning curve. But, I'm sorry; I'm not an idiot. I'm in the process of getting my Ph.D. I can read, I can follow instructions, and I can even think for myself. Considering that anyone who wants to is pretty much allowed to have kids without a court deeming them fit, I feel I should be extended the same courtesy."
"Lorna!" Felicia flew through the door of her daughter's room, Lucas trailing in her wake. She raced over to the bed, past a bemused Jamie, clutching Lorna by both shoulders, kissing her first on one cheek, then the other, holding her at arm's length then changing her mind and pulling her close, kissing her again, all the while burbling, "I was afraid I was dreaming when Jamie called, but you really are alright finally! It's a miracle. I can't believe it. Can you believe it, Luke? Look at her! Doesn't she look wonderful?"
"Wonderful," Lucas agreed, reaching around Felicia to squeeze their daughter's hand, his voice quavering. "I don't think I've ever seen a more beautiful sight in my life. How do you feel, sweetheart?"
"Stiff," Lorna confessed. "Sore. Weak. My head hurts and my throat's been scraped raw. But, I managed to sleep through the worst of the morning sickness, so, what the hell, six of one, half dozen of the other, right?"
"The baby is alright?" Felicia asked Jamie anxiously.
"I hear she's in better shape than me," Lorna joked.
"You know for sure it's a girl now?" Lucas double-checked. "Jamie said you thought so from the start, but...."
"It's definitely a girl." Lorna smiled at him. "I even got to see her. Look." As Lucas straightened up from taking his turn hugging her, she handed him the sonogram photo Jamie had gotten printed out for her. "Guess you're doomed to always be surrounded by women. Ready to spoil another granddaughter, Dad?"
Lucas clutched the photo, nodding his head, blinking, unable to speak. Wordlessly, he handed it to Felicia, who exhibited a similar reaction, only, in her case, the gesture came accompanied by a quick, guilty dart of the eyes towards Jamie. He looked back at her neutrally. Neither of which was lost on Lorna.
Figuring they might as well get it out into the open, Lorna broke it to her parents, "Jamie told me what went on here while I was unconscious."
Felicia's chin jerked up, the sonogram in her hand beginning to tremble audibly. She and Lucas exchanged nervous glances.
Jamie spoke up, enunciating each word carefully, striving to make the whole add up to more than the sum of its parts. "I told Lorna that Morgan and I differed on the best course of treatment. Since he was her legal husband, we had to go to court to determine who would be in charge of her medical care. I told Lorna that you, Felicia, in particular, preferred to heed Morgan's counsel." And that's it, he stressed through voice alone.
Felicia stared at him, head cocked to one side, puzzled whether Jamie was saying what she thought he was saying. And more, wondering what brought about his munificence.
Lucas, too, appeared conflicted. He glanced from Felicia to Jamie to Lorna, weighing his options, wondering, "Haven't we had enough lies in this family?"
The words slipped out before he'd firmly decided whether he actually wanted them to.
Three pairs of stunned eyes swiveled in his direction.
He met them each in turn, deciding, now that he'd said this much, Lucas might as well go all the way with his blasphemous thought.
He reminded, "We've just lived through an excruciating, horrifying, agonizing example of what happens when secrets get buried with the hope they'll never see the light of day. People get hurt. Lives get upturned. Relationships are changed irrevocably. Didn't we learn a damn thing from any of that?"
"Luke, please," Felicia whispered. "Lorna all of us have just been through a dreadful ordeal. She doesn't need to be besieged with "
"What?" Lorna struggled to sit up, the better to keep either of her parents from backing down on this. "What don't I need to be besieged with? What aren't you telling me?"
"A lot," Jamie admitted. "But, Felicia is right. It can wait until you're feeling stronger."
"Is it about the baby?" Lorna leapt to the most obvious conclusion, based on what seemed to have triggered Lucas' outburst.
"No," Jamie assured.
Even as Lucas hedged with, "In a way."
"Tell me what's going on here," Lorna ordered, managing to push herself to sitting position with both arms out of sheer ire. "Dad! What is it you think I need to know?"
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