“May we come in?” Rachel, one hand firmly dug into Elizabeth’s shoulder as they stood on the doorstep to the Harrison mansion, felt compelled to add, “Please, Amanda.”
Coming up behind his wife and seeing who it was, Kevin politely but unequivocally said, “Not without my lawyer present.”
“You don’t need him anymore,” Elizabeth blurted out sullenly.
“What does that mean?” Amanda wondered.
“I’ll explain. Just… may we come in?”
Amanda looked questioningly at Kevin. He hesitated, then shrugged and waved them inside, warning, “Don’t expect me to say anything.”
“That’s alright,” Rachel assured. “I plan to do the majority of the talking. Then hand the floor over to Elizabeth.”
“We’re not interested in anything she has to say,” Amanda cut her mother off.
“You will be,” Rachel predicted. “Kevin,” she began. “We’re dropping the charges.”
That certainly got his attention. Though the lawyer still overruled the defendant, and he remained silent as promised. Leaving it up to Amanda to demand, “Why?”
“Because. Elizabeth made up her accusation.”
“I told you that from the start.”
“I have proof now,” Rachel said shakily. “We’ve contacted the authorities formally, and they said they would inform your attorney shortly. But, I wanted you to know as soon as possible. I didn’t want either of you suffering a moment longer than necessary.”
Kevin and Amanda exchanged looks, neither sure how to react. Kevin reached for his phone. “I’m calling Mike.” He pressed the BlackBerry to his ear and scurried out of the room for privacy.
Leaving Rachel alone with her two daughters, both of them taking turns glaring at each other – and at her.
“You had something to say, Elizabeth,” Rachel prompted.
“To Kevin,” Elizabeth reminded. “You told me I had to apologize to Kevin.”
“You can practice on Amanda.” Rachel forcibly pivoted her younger child to face the elder. “Go.”
“I’m sorry,” Elizabeth snarled, making it clear the only regret she was currently feeling was towards being compelled to issue the apology in the first place.
“That’s it?” Amanda didn’t know whether to laugh or get indignant. “You tried to ruin my husband’s reputation and his livelihood, not to mention get him sent to prison for quite possibly the rest of his life, and you’re sorry?”
“I’m actually not,” Elizabeth clarified for those who hadn’t been paying ample attention.
“You’re hiding it beautifully.”
“Elizabeth!” Frankly, Rachel was frustrated by both of them, but Elizabeth was still ahead on that score. “Are you honestly telling me that – “
“I’m not you, Mom. I don’t feel obliged to apologize for looking out for my family – “
“That’s some piece of work you’ve got there, Mom,” Amanda observed.
“ – Or for not being the sainted Mac Cory’s daughter, either.”
“What?” Amanda and Rachel asked in unison.
“That’s my biggest crime, isn’t it? Being a Hutchins instead of a Cory? Even Jamie and Matt get a pass, biology be damned, as long as they identify with the proper father.”
“That’s ridiculous,” Rachel said.
“And a blatant attempt to cloud the issue,” Amanda added.
“Young lady, you did a dreadful, horrible, unforgivable thing.”
“If it’s unforgivable, why am I here, prostrating myself?”
“Because I hoped it might help you comprehend the severity of your actions.”
“Good luck with that,” Amanda advised.
“And that’s enough out of you, too,” their mother snapped.
“They made me do it,” Elizabeth, pleased to see Rachel’s vitriol turned elsewhere, even if only momentarily, recovered to calmly lay out. “If they hadn’t gone after Father, none of this need ever have happened. They,” she echoed the lament presumably coined by Cain and Abel. “Started it.”
When Dean walked into Jeanne’s office at KBAY, she glanced up without saying a word. Dean didn’t look too certain regarding what he planned to do either.
So, in lieu of speaking, Dean merely shuffled over and awkwardly thrust a stack of pages into Jeanne’s hands.
“You earned it,” he mumbled, before scurrying out again.
Only after he’d left, did Jeanne look down at the paperwork he’d handed her.
And saw ownership of KBAY-TV… transferred to her.
“Done,” Chase told Lila, gleefully sweeping into her City Hall office, picking her up and spinning Lila around in triumph.
“You’re in a good mood,” Lila observed, attempting to regain her equilibrium. “That means someone, somewhere is miserable.”
“Soon,” Chase promised, flopping back into a chair.
“Carl.” Though she made it sound like a question, it really wasn’t one.
Chase answered in any case. “Carl,” he confirmed.
“The evidence you found…”
“All checks out. Every last bit of it. Having the warrants drawn up now.”
“Do you have to look so happy about it?”
“I do. And so should you. The quicker we put an end to this, the sooner you and I can stop touring our low-rent version of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. I know how hard this has all been on you. Not just the press and the gossip, but at home, too. I promise you’ll have me out of your hair – and out of your bedroom, ASAP.”
“And you’ll go back to Doug.”
“Yes…” the way Chase smiled as he said it both touched Lila’s heart… and pissed her off.
“While I go back to the home of the woman whose husband I helped put in jail.”
“Rachel Hutchins’ husband helped put himself in jail. In fact, he is solely responsible for everything that happens to him from here on out.”
“You know Rachel’s son, Jasmine’s daddy just had a heart attack, right?”
“I do. I called the hospital and checked in on him. Was told he’s going to be just fine.”
“Doesn’t mean Rachel hasn’t lost years of her life worrying.”
“You’re blaming that on me, too, now?”
“Can you at least let her catch her breath in between calamities? The things Carl did… Are they really so bad that we’re all in imminent danger if he remains on the loose for a few more days? How about showing some compassion?”
“You’re right, Lila,” Chase mused thoughtfully. “You’re right. After all, in the end, Carl’s only crime was breaking the law. Why should he be held responsible for that?”
“You’re making fun of me,” Lila smacked Chase’s outstretched legs with a manila folder and stood up to fume at the opposite corner of the room.
“You? Never.” Chase also stood to face her. “Those who believe that because a man has put on a dandy show of contrition and moved his illegal enterprises underground, because he stopped outright gloating over them in public and set up a convincing façade of wholesome family life, he should be forgiven for everything he’s done in the past and never paid for – not to mention the crimes against the state he continues to commit on a daily basis? Damn skippy.”
“Crimes against the state. Not people.”
“Carl Hutchins was paroled from jail on the condition that he divest from his illegal holdings and disassociate himself from all former criminal associations. He did neither. Instead, Carl continues to run his empire, consort with the same people, and commit the same crimes – whether through third parties or by his own hands doesn’t matter – that brought the compound to Bay City’s doorstep and culminated with Kirkland Frame’s kidnapping and Spencer Harrison’s death. Carl Hutchins is in as deep with the criminal underworld as he ever was. And it’s up to me to stop him, once and for all.”
“So where is Zeno taking you on your date?” Sarah wondered.
Allie shrugged. “I don’t know. He said he’d call with the exact time and place.”
“Think you guys will be digging up your own dinner straight from the ground?”
“At least my date doesn’t need his root vegetables mashed up for him,” Allie stuck her tongue out.
“Is that your way of saying Grant is old?”
“Is that your way of saying Zeno is…”
“Seriously? That’s the best you can do? Earthy? You’re dating the Farmer in the Dell!”
“So nothing. It’s just funny, that’s all. You’ve got to admit, Al, Zeno Tantelus is so not your type.”
“I’ll admit it. Although, for the record, Gregory’s mom lived on a farm, too.”
“You ever stop by there?”
“That’s one point for me.”
“When would I have had time to stop by the farm? Gregory and I spent most of our relationship either lying to GQ about Hudson or…” she trailed off.
And Sarah was instantly sorry she’d brought the subject up. “Yeah. It’s okay. I get it.”
“That’s the thing about Zeno. That’s why he’s really not my type. The farm has nothing to do with it. Zeno is so… he’s so… normal.”
“You mean other than the part where Frankie thinks he’s the baby she and Cass lost, and she spent ten years as his other mom while she had amnesia?”
“In Bay City, that’s normal.”
“And that’s one point for you,” Sarah conceded.
“With GQ,” Allie said. “It was all about us being together even when we shouldn’t be.”
“Even when he said you shouldn’t be. Don’t lose track of that. The problem was GQ’s not yours.”
“Whatever. It was still a problem. Same with Gregory. It wasn’t his fault he was sick. But, he was. And everything that happened between us was colored by that, even when I didn’t know it. Zeno is different. He’s doesn’t have any secrets.”
“This is Bay City,” Sarah echoed. “Everybody has secrets.”
“And that’s one more point for you,” Allie sighed.
“You heard!” Steven arrived in Jen’s hospital room to find Kevin and Jamie already there. By the look on Jen’s face, he could guess, “You know Grandma is dropping the charges against your dad.”
“All thanks to you!” Jen beamed.
Kevin stood up, stretching his arm out over Jen’s head to shake Steven’s hand. “I can’t thank you enough. Really, Steven, there aren’t any words.”
“Nice work, son,” Jamie said faintly, visibly pleased for Kevin and Jen, but not nearly as much as the others.
“Yeah, thanks.” Steven returned Kevin’s handshake, acknowledged Jamie’s compliment and smiled at Jen. “But, it was Cory who spearheaded it. He’s the one who figured out what Elizabeth was up to and how to catch her red-handed. I just pushed a few buttons.”
“A few buttons the BCPD didn’t think to push,” Kevin grumbled, still obviously bitter.
“How,” Jamie broached tentatively. “How was your grandmother when you left her?”
“Shell-shocked,” Steven told him honestly. “She looked like she wished she could just disappear for a little bit. Stop the world, I want to get off, you know?”
“Yeah,” Jamie rubbed his chin sorrowfully. “I know exactly what you mean.” He shook his head, looking down at the floor. “Damn it. Poor Mom.”
“She was very gracious when she came to see us,” Kevin interjected, hoping that might cheer Jamie up some. “She didn’t have to do it. Your mother has a lot of class. And guts.”
“Yeah. Mom is amazing,” Jamie noted, before abruptly changing the subject. “Amanda filled me in about Elizabeth’s behavior.”
Kevin shrugged. “Would you be terribly offended if I said that wasn’t my problem anymore?”
“Today? No.” Jamie shoved away his own concerns to focus on the situation at hand.
“Of course, now we have another problem,” Kevin filled Steven in. “Jenny’s biological father isn’t answering his phone. No surprise there. Johnson likes to be in control of the action, and responding to calls from unknown numbers isn’t the pathway to that. I was going to hop on a plane and drag him back here myself – “
“No, you weren’t,” Jen corrected. “Not while you were out on bail.”
“I’m not out on bail anymore.”
“Yes, you are. Until the official hearing tomorrow, you still are.”
“Which means I can’t go to New York,” Kevin finished.
“I can go,” Steven offered, prompting three looks of surprise in his direction. “What? What’s the big deal? Give me a name, give me an address, tell me what I need to do, and I’ll do it. The sooner the better, right?”
“That would be terrific, Steven,” Kevin enthused. “Thank you so much!”
“Hold on a second,” Jamie interrupted. “You told me this guy is dangerous, and now you’re suggesting my son go provoke him?”
“Actually, Dad, I suggested it.”
“And I vetoed it.”
“No, Steven. No. Horace Johnson can wait for a few days. Kevin can get his legal problems straightened out, and if by then I still haven’t been able to reach him by phone, then he can go track him down in New York. Do you understand what I’m saying?”
“I understand what you’re saying,” Steven told Jamie calmly. “Same way I hope you’ll understand that I’m going anyway.”
“Mom!” Matt felt like he should stand to attention at the sight of Rachel entering his hospital room. He pushed himself up on his elbows. Now his heart monitor definitely did hit into high gear.
“How are you feeling, Matthew?” Rachel figured as long as an emergency team wasn’t rushing in, Matt’s response still qualified as normal. She could only guess what might happen as they dove into the gist of their conversation.
“Better. A lot better than I did the other night.”
“Jamie tells me you’ll need to change some of your daily habits. Eat better, exercise, get more rest.”
“Yeah. There’s a pamphlet around here somewhere. He’s threatened to check up on me, too. One of the downsides to having a doctor for a brother.”
“Jeanne was here earlier.” Rachel had so many topics to cover, she figured they might as well get on with it.
“I didn’t know that.”
“Donna didn’t mention it?”
“No,” Matt cringed at the mention of his wife’s – both his wives’ – names.
“Jeanne got here first, actually. In this respect anyway.”
“So you know,” he sighed.
“About your bigamy?”
“It wasn’t technically bigamy. I never filed my license from the wedding with Jeanne, so…”
“Your marriage to Donna remains the union of record?”
“Well, at least that’s a relief. One less lawyer to hire.”
“Mom, I’m sorry…”
“Isn’t Jeanne the one you should be apologizing to?”
“Well, technically, she – “
“Her affair with Dean, it came after your sham wedding, am I right about that?”
“You’re right,” he squirmed.
“So anything Jeanne may have done subsequently, that doesn’t excuse your earlier behavior.”
“Mom, with all due respect, you don’t know about…”
“Oh.” Well, there went that. “You do know.”
“I’ve heard Donna’s version of events. I’d like to hear yours.”
“Jeanne blackmailed me into marrying her.”
“She threatened to charge me with sexual harassment. You know, same as Lorna?”
“My understanding is you did actually sexually harass your brother’s wife.”
“She wasn’t his wife then.”
“Honestly, Matthew? That’s the gist of your defense?
“And I didn’t mean it.”
“Oh, that’s much better.”
“I was just trying to prove a point.”
“Regarding your painful lack of judgment?” Rachel wondered, “Did you sexually harass Jeanne as well?”
“I can see why it might have looked that way.”
“What did you, in fact, do to her?”
“I – I slept with her.”
“Against her will?”
“Of course not!”
“Then where did the harassment come in?”
“I told her I loved her.”
“And… I… didn’t.”
“I know! I’m sorry, okay? I’m sorry about so many things, more than you can imagine. But, then she did blackmail me. So Donna suggested the two of us get married first, and nullify her threat.”
“Do you love Donna?” Rachel asked her son.
“Yeah, Mom. Yeah, I do,” he offered defiantly, heart rate holding steady.
“Okay,” Rachel exhaled. “Then enough about Jeanne. If anyone can take care of herself, I suspect she can. I’ll talk to Clarice and Larry, smooth over whatever needs to be smoothed over. I won’t have my relationship with them ruined over this. Your actions were deplorable, but it seems Jeanne more than got her own back. Obviously, marriage to you wasn’t all she anticipated, if Jeanne needed to turn to Dean.”
“Well, see, the fact is, I wasn’t – “
“I don’t care,” Rachel cut him off. “New topic: Donna Love. Or, should I say, Donna Cory?”
“Donna Love,” Matt guessed. “I think. Although, I don’t know – “
“What you do know is how I feel about the woman. You know what I think regarding what she did to Jenna, to Dean, to Felicia, to Carl.”
“Carl is the reason Donna felt she had to – “
“Kidnap people? Kill them?”
“That was an accident, what happened to Jenna. You don’t know how sorry Donna is.”
“I don’t give a damn. She put my best friend through Hell. She had a man locked up against his will for fifteen years, and kept him from his family. She deprived my husband of his own child for even longer than that.”
“I love her, Mom.”
“Yes,” Rachel sighed. “So you say. You know, Matthew, considering the way you, your brother, and your sister are currently treating me in regards Carl, you realize that I would be perfectly within my rights to turn my back on you just as brutally over Donna.”
“I do realize that, yes. The question is, are you going to, Mom?”
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