Ignoring both Felicia and Jamie's attempts to silence him, Lucas sternly advised Lorna, "I have a strong feeling Jamie didn't tell you everything that went on here over the past few months."
"I told her everything relevant," Jamie reiterated. "The details can wait."
"Did he tell you what Morgan put him through?" Lucas thrust a finger Jamie's way, forcing an already guilt-stricken Lorna to look at him as her father itemized, "Morgan forced Jamie to publicly defend himself, to defend the legitimacy of your relationship, to defend your child as being his."
"I know," Lorna said in a small voice.
"And he did it," Lucas said. "In spite of you betraying his trust, Jamie did it. He fought for you, even when every piece of data suggested you'd been playing him for a fool."
Lorna appeared at a loss for words, so it was Jamie who interjected, "It doesn't matter. I already told Lorna that."
"You," Lucas informed his daughter. "Are extraordinarily lucky. Most people aren't quite so willing to overlook the fact that their entire relationship was based on a lie."
"I didn't lie to him about everything." Even guilt-stricken, there was just so much Lorna could take before her self-protective instincts kicked in.
"Ask your mother," Lucas urged. "What she believes qualifies as an appropriate reaction to being deceived."
"Luke, please," Felicia's voice strove for adamant, but settled in desperate. "Not here, not now. Look at Lorna. Look at our gorgeous girl. We've finally gotten our miracle. Why would you want to ruin this moment?"
He stared at her, baffled, prompting, "Haven't we learned our lesson about lying? Even with the best intentions? You and Cass, you and Rachel, you and me.... Didn't Lorna's accident prove once and for all that the truth will inevitably come out? And probably at the worst time, too. I say let's stop with the secrets. Let's stop living our lives in fear."
"You're doing it again," Felicia accused.
"What? What am I doing?"
"Putting yourself first. You can't handle how matters have turned out, so what's your solution? Dumping your issues onto Lorna. Again. Making her shoulder your burden. Again. Making her pay the price for your failings."
Both Lucas and Lorna blanched at that, although for different reasons.
"What are you talking about, Mom?" Lorna asked, voice shaking.
"I told her," Lucas said dully. "I told you knew I was alive before she did. That Cass and Rachel knew, too. I testified about it during the trial. That's what I meant about secrets coming out at the worst possible time."
"The worst time for you," Felicia snapped. "How about thinking about Lorna for a change?"
"Don't blame him," Lorna ordered. "He did what he had to."
"Your father is the reason we've been having such a difficult time these past few years. Finally, it all makes sense!"
"That was my choice, not his. He didn't ask me to pull away from you and Jenna. I did that. You want to be mad at somebody over it, be mad at me."
"No," Felicia sunk down on the edge of Lorna's bed. "Not again. Never again. I am never, ever going to let anything come between the two of us again. I almost lost you, Lorna. I thought, the first time you were taken from me, that nothing on Earth could ever hurt as much. But, back then you were just a concept, an idea, a blank slate. This time around, when I knew you, when I loved you for who you actually were, not just for who I dreamed you might have been, it was so, so much worse. I would have traded my life for yours in an instant. I would have done anything to protect you. Anything."
"We all would have," Jamie chimed in, determined to nip this exchange in the bud before anything else, potentially even more upsetting to Lorna's recovery, surfaced. "We were all out of our minds with worry. We all said things in the heat of the moment that I'm sure we wish we could take back. It's senseless to point fingers now. The only thing I'm concerned about is the future. I strongly suggest Felicia, Lucas that you two get it together and do the same."
"Mr. Todd." It was Kevin's turn to cross-examine GQ on the stand. "Prior to this case, how did we know each other?"
GQ's eyes drifted Jen's way. She smiled encouragingly "You're my girlfriend's father."
"Indeed, I am. I'm Jenny's father. And when you first learned of this, what did you tell my daughter regarding your views on Black children being raised by white parents?"
"Objection," Mel sprang to her feet. "Mr. Fowler has established no foundation for this line of questioning."
"Agreed," Kevin said pleasantly. "However, Ms. Boudreau did, with her grilling of Ms. Fowler regarding Mr. Todd's attitude towards her and their son."
"I'll allow it," the judge conceded. "But, take care to stay on point, Counselor."
"Thank you, Your Honor." Kevin prompted GQ. "What were your words, exactly?"
GQ refused to let the attorney intimidate him. "I said it was cultural genocide."
"Is that how you feel about Dr. and Mrs. Bauer raising Hudson?"
"Objection! Irrelevant. We're here to decide a point of law, not philosophy."
"Yeah," GQ said, before the judge had her chance to rule one way or another. "Sure. I know I'd still be here, fighting for my son, no matter what color the Bauers were, but, go ahead, knock yourself out, assume it's because they're white."
"I'm not here to assume anything, Mr. Todd. The purpose of my inquiry is to determine the facts so that Her Honor might then render a fair judgment." Kevin paused. "On the other hand, now that you mention it, was it merely Ms. Fowler's assumption that you broke off your relationship with her because she was white?"
GQ blinked. Involuntarily, his gaze shifted to Allie. She sat behind the Bauers, between Amanda and Sarah. When GQ first came up to testify, she'd shrunk back, as if hoping to disappear into the nondescript, beige wooden background. Now, however, Allie leaned forward, her elbows on her knees, holding up her trembling upper body as she held her breath, waiting to hear what GQ might say. Knowing the answer ahead of time. Wishing she didn't. Wondering, all the same.
"No," GQ said. "It wasn't just her assumption."
"Were you in love with Alexandra Fowler, Mr. Todd?"
GQ opened his mouth, shut it again, thought of an explanation, discarded it, thought of a justification, refuted it. "Yes," was all he finally offered.
Allie shivered at his words, looking to Sarah, who flashed a bolstering smiled, followed by a shrug. "I told you so."
Across the aisle, Jen developed an all-consuming interest in the minutiae of her hands, studying the swirls of her fingers and the lifelines of her palms as if the carnival fortune-tellers were right and her entire future really could be read amidst the prints.
"So," Kevin pressed on, deliberately keeping his back to Jen. He'd learned a long time ago he couldn't be a parent and a lawyer simultaneously and, no matter how much he may have wanted to turn and see how she was handling the revelation, he understood it would be ill-advised. "If Ms. Fowler were Black, you never would have broken up with her?"
"Well... I can't say never. I don't know what might have happened down the line."
"Let me rephrase. If Ms. Fowler were Black, you wouldn't have broken up with her when you did, the way that you did, for the reasons that you did."
"No," GQ agreed.
"Explain it to me as if I were a child, Mr. Todd: How is it that you could not reconcile to having a white girlfriend, but you see no conflict in raising a white son?"
"Overruled," the judge said, declining to even site cause. "The witness will answer."
"Hudson isn't white," GQ said.
"He looks white."
"Maybe to you."
"He obviously did to you, as well. Otherwise you would've never dropped your paternity claim as soon as you laid eyes on him. You didn't even request a blood test once he was born, which you were certainly within your rights to do."
"So I made a dumb mistake. If stupidity were adequate grounds for permanently losing your parental rights would anyone in this room still have their kids?"
The look on Amanda's face suggested she certainly would not. Rick and Mel appeared equally convinced.
"Your intention then," Kevin tread carefully, inwardly cringing at what he was about to say, all the while knowing that unless he went along with Rick's wishes, he faced a good chance of being disbarred for his role in Allie's fraud. "Is to raise Hudson as Black?"
"I intend to raise him as a boy, too. "Cause that's what he is."
"So his mother's racial heritage is irrelevant?"
"I didn't write the one-drop rule. That would've been the Racial Integrity Act of 1924."
"That law was overturned by the Supreme Court in 1967. Loving v. Virginia."
"Guess the press release got delayed. Ask anybody in America what makes a person Black or white. Heck, ask Halle Berry."
Kevin smiled, "While I, as much as any red-blooded male, would love the authority to compel Ms. Berry into making herself available to me on demand, I don't believe crucial judicial policy should rest exclusively on the outdated misconceptions of Catwoman."
"She was also Storm in X-Men," GQ reminded.
Mel mused, "Is Mr. Fowler done compensating for his lack of victory in an Oscar pool?"
"Just a few more questions," Kevin assured.
"As long as you refrain from invoking The Last Boy Scout," the judge warned.
"I'll do my best, Your Honor." Kevin asked GQ, "Since you seem so well informed about the Racial Integrity Act, would you care to share why it was passed in the first place?"
"To prevent amalgamation; race-mixing."
"So you agree with it?"
"Objection! Still irrelevant! And also insulting."
"Sustained. You're trying my patience, Mr. Fowler."
"Withdrawn. Just one more thing, Mr. Todd."
"And now he's doing Columbo," Mel mumbled to herself.
Kevin had to pry apart his gritted teeth to force himself to ask, "Who would you say has it better in America today? The average Black man, or the average white man?"
GQ's eyes widened, and he all but shook his head, certain he couldn't possibly have heard right. "Are you kidding me?"
"May I presume you believe that would be the white man?"
"First one you've gotten right all day."
"In that case, how can you, as an allegedly loving father, possibly justify removing your son from a situation wherein he would be eligible for all the societal advantages America has to offer, and knowingly, deliberately place him in an inferior one? What kind of parent doesn't want the very, very best for their child? Even at their own expense."
"Did you enjoy my parents' re-imagining of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolfe?" Lorna queried Jamie after Lucas and Felicia, murmuring apologies, left her hospital room.
"They can reenact Death and the Maiden, for all I care, as long as they don't upset you in the process. Stress isn't conducive to healing."
"I'm okay. Honest. I'm kind of relieved, actually. I know it's selfish of me; my parents are clearly suffering, and, God knows, you suffered, too. But, now that Felicia knows about Lucas, and you know about Morgan, I feel like I can finally breathe easy. Like I can at last get on with my life."
"On that note," Jamie sat down next to her, avoiding the wires running from her arms as deftly as he avoided the subject of further secrets between them. "There's something I've been meaning to do, which I don't see any point in putting off for a minute longer. The last time I did, it didn't end well." He reached into his pocket, producing the same ring box that has so terrified her a lifetime ago in San Diego.
Jamie snuck a sideways peek at Lorna, waiting to follow her lead. "I know what I said about avoiding excess stress, but...."
She looked from the box to him and, gulping, gave an almost imperceptible nod.
Jamie smiled, his body sagging with relief as he simultaneously eagerly popped open the box, showing Lorna the one-carat, marquis-cut diamond in a classic solitaire, gold setting.
For a moment, neither of them said a word.
"I " Lorna struggled to regain her power of speech. "This is your Grandmother Ada's ring, isn't it? I asked her about it, once. It seemed so unlike her style. She said Nancy's father gave it to her. It cost him who knows how many months salary. But, he wanted Ada to understand that she meant everything to him. "
He nodded. "Grandma left it to me in her will. With a note saying she felt confident I'd find the right woman to give it to one day. I was thinking... I know you two were close. She'd have been thrilled we... But, if you don't like it, we can switch out the setting, or the stone. Heck, we can get a brand new ring, if you'd prefer. I just thought that..."
"No," Lorna seemed unable to take her eyes off of it. "I It's perfect."
She tilted her head up, kissing Jamie, first softly and fully on both lips, then cradling the upper between both of hers before shifting to gently suck the lower. Her tongue flicked along the corners of his mouth, darting inside to mischievously stroke and intertwine with his, leaning into Jamie, her hands on his chest, only to feel him reluctantly pull away.
"I don't think this is a good idea," he murmured into her cheek.
"Feels good to me," Lorna countered, attempting to pick up where they'd left off by slipping her arms around his neck.
He lowered them regretfully to her sides. "I don't think either one of us should risk feeling too good right now."
"Are you kidding me? You just got out of a coma. You can barely sit up."
"Okay," she conceded. "That's me. What about you? I did the math. I know how long it's been."
He raised an eyebrow. "I was celibate for over a decade, Lorna. A few weeks isn't going to push me off the rails."
"Except," Lorna grabbed Jamie by the tie, pulling him to her and playfully sneaking in another kiss before finishing her thought. "Now you know what you're missing.
This time, it took Jamie even longer to pull away. He actually needed to stand up and put a foot of physical distance between them to keep from being tempted. "You've got a mean streak, you know that?
"Oh, you love it."
He hesitated, the lightheartedness of a second earlier gone.
"What is it?" Lorna was instantly on the alert. "What did I say wrong?"
"I love you," Jamie said.
She cocked her head to the side, confused but doing her best not to let on. "And that's something to get upset about now?"
"It is when I..." He trailed off, looking away.
"Stop it, Frame, you're scaring me."
"The night you were brought in," Jamie addressed the curtains, though Lorna presumed he was still speaking to her, not the drapes. "How much do you remember?"
"I remember you knew I was pregnant even though I thought I was being so surreptitious. I remember you looking for the baby's heartbeat with your stethoscope. Letting me listen to it, too, so I'd know she was okay."
"What about later? When they took you upstairs for the MRI?"
"That part is kind of a blur," she admitted. "My head was already really beginning to hurt, and being jostled on the gurney made me even more nauseous than I already was..."
"You said you loved me," Jamie prompted, his tone ambiguous.
"Well, yeah. I did. I do." She struggled to grasp what he was telling her. "I don't understand, is this because Morgan was there? Did you think I was trying to prove "
"I didn't say it back."
"You didn't say what back?"
"I love you. I didn't say it back."
Her question managed to completely disarm him. "It was the last thing you said to me before you... I could have lost you for good then... And I "
"Was busy processing that I'd been in an accident. With Morgan. Who apparently knew I was pregnant before you did. Not to mention that for a real, real long minute there, neither of us was even certain the baby had made it through the crash. You had stuff on your mind. I cut you some slack, maybe you should do the same?"
Jamie stared at Lorna for an interminable beat, finally managing to choke out, "You're amazing."
"No. You're just too hard on yourself."
"I love you," he said.
"We've established that. It's nice. It's more than nice. It's... worth waking up for."
"You know what we haven't established?" He indicated the still open ring box balanced atop the blanket covering her legs. "Will you marry me, Lorna?"
"Are you just going to keep hiding in your room forever?" Cory poked his head inside in response to Jasmine's tepid, "Come in."
"I'm not hiding," Jasmine pulled the iPod buds out of her ears, swinging her legs off the bed to face Cory. "I'm just... otherwise engaged, that's all."
"How come you didn't ride to school with Elizabeth and me this morning?"
"I wasn't ready yet. Didn't want you guys to be late because of me."
"And on the way back?"
"Drama club," Jasmine defended.
"That's on Mondays, not Thursdays. It's been on Mondays all year long. What's going on, Jazz? You mad at me or something?"
"Not you," she said.
"Oh. Elizabeth, then." It was hardly the first time. "What did she do now?"
"She can be," he agreed.
"And she's a liar, too."
Cory hesitated. "Actually, Elizabeth might not be the most, you know, diplomatic person who ever lived. And she does have a tendency to tell people things they don't really want to hear. Just to gauge their reactions. But, thing is, usually those things are true."
"Yeah," Jasmine said sadly. "I know."
"What did she tell you, Jazz? It can't be worth a lifetime of solitary confinement."
"She said...." Jasmine debated whether or not to come clean, then realized she was tired of keeping the facts to herself. "She said my mama was the one who called the police and got Kevin's grandmother arrested at her wedding."
"Oh," Cory exhaled.
"Why would she do that? I know Mama was mad at Kevin about something. I'm not even sorry about it, even though it's not ladylike. But, she didn't have anything against Dr. Frame. And even if she did... Dr. Frame could have gone to jail. How could my mama do something like that to a nice, older person? It's... it's... disrespectful!"
"Your mom didn't make that call, Jazz," Cory said slowly, weighing each word carefully.
"Huh? How do you know?"
Cory tapped his chest. "Me lawn furniture, remember? I listen. I hear things."
"So what did you hear?"
"I heard," he sighed. "I heard that Lila only pretended to make that call. Mostly to get Amanda out of her hair. And also because she was mad at Kevin."
"So Mama didn't do it?" Jasmine beamed with hope.
"Then why did she say she did?"
"Because she was protecting the real person who did it."
"Not your mom," Cory admitted. "Mine."
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