“We’re all set,” Marley announced upon her return to Sarah’s hospital room, wheelchair in hand, only to find the younger woman looking distinctively paler than when Marley left.
“What’s wrong? Are you feeling alright?” Marley looked over her shoulder at Grant for clarification.
He said smoothly, “Sarah tried to get up too fast. It made her dizzy.”
“You should be taking it easy,” Marley wagged her finger at the girl. “After Grant gave blood for Kirkland’s surgery, he could barely function for days afterward. Isn’t that right?”
“Yes,” Grant choked out, despite feeling both of Sarah’s eyes boring into him. And recalling precisely what she’d done to make him feel better on that particular occasion.
“Here, I’ll help you,” Marley guided Sarah into the chair. “Good thing you’re coming home with us. I can’t trust you.”
“What?” Sarah whipped her head around, now truly feeling dizzy.
“To take care of yourself properly,” Marley said. “You need to be looked after.”
“I – You – I don’t know how to thank – You don’t need to do this, Marley.” A jumble of sentiments battled for dominance inside Sarah’s head.
“Maybe not. But, you do need us, Sarah.”
“I can – “
“You don’t want to call Olivia and Dennis.”
“God, no. I can’t think of anything more horrifying.”
“And since the baby’s father is refusing to step up…”
Oh, wait, now Sarah actually could think of something more horrifying. Never mind.
“Right,” Sarah nodded her head weakly. While Grant merely expressed intense fascination with the exact stitching of the hospital’s drapes.
“Then you’re stuck with us.” Marley smiled in an attempt to get Sarah to do the same. She didn’t quite hit her target. And Marley suspected she knew why. “I promise I won’t become too overbearing. Or forget that this is your pregnancy, not mine.”
“It’s… okay. Really, Marley. I owe you so much…”
“The only person you owe anything to right now is your baby. We’re going to make sure both of you are healthy and happy, and that you stay that way for as long as possible.” She turned to Grant, hoping he might back her up. “This is going to be fun, right? A new experience for all of us.”
Grant nodded uncomfortably, while Marley said, “Let’s go home.”
“What brings you by?” Rachel couldn’t think of a single reason for Russ to be standing in her living room in the middle of the day. Yet there he was.
“I wanted to see how you were doing,” her first ex-husband explained.
“Awful,” Rachel told him honestly.
He nodded, but refrained from commenting further.
“Thank you for not attempting to cheer me up.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it,” Russ swore. “I know whenever anyone attempted a comparable maneuver with me under similar circumstances, it only made me want to crawl even deeper into my black hole. Well, after a punch to the jaw, that is.”
“You lost Tracy,” Rachel sympathized.
“And Olivia’s mother.”
“Was that worse?” Rachel wondered. “Also losing the mother of your child versus “merely” losing the woman you loved? Because I keep thinking about this. Steve, Mac, Carl… I had children with all of them. And yet each death feels completely different. With Steve, the second time, it felt almost… inevitable. Like I should have expected as much; like I had no right even thinking we had a future in the first place. With Mac… With Mac it was unfathomable. Like something that simply couldn’t have happened, so I refused to believe that it had. I kept feeling like I would turn around, and there he’d be, that it had all been some terrible, tragic mistake, that a spirit like Mac’s couldn’t just… disappear, there was too much of him, he was too… solid for that.”
“And Carl?” Russ prompted.
“With Carl… it’s like he was never here in the first place. One love like I had with Mac is more than the average person can expect. Two… I was being greedy. I asked for too much – like I always do. And I was punished for it. That’s me to a T, isn’t it, Russ? Always running after too many things at the same time, grabbing one and lunging for the next, only to lose what I already have and end up with nothing.”
“That was you,” he clarified.
“Sometimes,” she confessed. “I wish I could get her back. That girl who wasn’t afraid of anything or anyone. The one who did what she did, damn the consequences. The one without a conscience or even a sense of decency. The one who got things done, at least, instead of having things done to her.”
“Sorry,” Russ said. “I suspect that girl is gone for good.”
“Then how do you explain all…” She waved her hands helplessly in the air. “This?”
“Awful, rotten, horrible luck. Nothing more, nothing less.”
“It’s not a punishment?” she pleaded with him. “Rachel Davis’ ultimate payback for a lifetime of… being Rachel Davis?”
“Even if you did deserve some sort of divine retribution; you and Carl both – what did Cory and Elizabeth ever do to – “
“They’re the ones with the rotten luck. Of having been born my children. Just ask Jamie how he currently feels about the subject.”
“I don’t have to ask Jamie anything. I know Jamie. I know what kind of man he is. And I know who helped make him that way.”
“It was very sweet of you to come,” Rachel deftly changed the subject, leaning in to kiss him on the cheek. “I’m afraid I’m a bit of a local pariah these days. Between Hamilton smearing Carl’s name and people’s fear that bad luck is catching, my social calendar is notably empty.”
Rachel leaned back from embracing Russ. Only to spot Iris, who’d seemingly materialized right behind his shoulder in that instant.
“Russ! Darling!” Iris threw out her arms for a kiss and hug of her own. “It’s been much, much too long.”
“Iris,” Russ said, noncommittal, discovering late in life that standing pinned between his ex-wife and ex-fiancé was not the most comfortable of locations.
“I am ever so sorry we didn’t get a chance to chat, earlier.”
“Well,” Russ glanced over at Rachel. “Under the circumstances…”
“How have you been?”
“I’ve been…” Russ all but shook himself loose from her hold while attempting to keep smiling politely. “Fine. I’ve been fine.” Inspiration struck then, and he said, “I’m surprised to see you here, Iris.”
“Where else would I be? This is my family domicile.”
“No, I don’t mean – I mean right now. I thought you’d be with Sarah.”
Iris demurred. “I’m afraid our mutual granddaughter hasn’t exactly welcomed me home with open arms. Despite my best effort to reach out, she’s remained rather inhospitable.”
“Well, I’m sure she’s had a lot on her mind lately. Sarah’s in the hospital.”
“The hospital? Whatever for?”
Russ hesitated for just a moment before admitting, “She’s pregnant.”
“Pregnant!” It was unclear as to whether Iris was more horrified by her granddaughter’s state, or by what that meant for Iris. Great-Grandma Iris. She clarified her discomfort by gasping, “Why, she’s practically a child herself yet!”
Russ shrugged. “She was brought in at risk for miscarriage. But, she’s going to be fine. False alarm.”
It was equally difficult to tell whether Iris was relieved or upset by the news. “And the young man responsible for this?”
“Marley was the one with her at the hospital. After I found out everything was going to be okay, I didn’t pry for details.”
“That is so like you, Russ.” Iris didn’t mean it as a compliment. That, at least, was clear. She shook her head. “Marley. Always Marley. First her attempt to steal Dennis’ flesh and blood and now… I must go see Sarah at once.”
Russ nodded. “That sounds like a good idea.”
“A rain check, then?” She smiled up at him beguilingly.
“Sure,” Russ said.
His second peck on the cheek for the day, and Iris was gone.
Leaving Rachel to observe, “That wasn’t very nice of you. Siccing a fired up Iris on poor, defenseless Sarah. Hasn’t the girl been through enough?”
“She has,” Russ agreed. “Which is why I neglected to mention to Iris that Sarah’s not at the hospital anymore. I checked on her. She signed out before I left for the day.”
“Devious,” Rachel said.
“Iris,” Russ countered.
“Yes,” she agreed. Then added, “Thank you for coming to see me. I appreciate it, truly. And I hope that Iris’ presence won’t deter you from more visits in the future.”
“Are you certain he was telling the truth?” Felicia, Lori Ann on her lap, asked Frankie and Cass over Skype, after they had finished filing her in regarding Owen Lax swearing he had no idea where Carl – and, by extension, Elizabeth, Cory, and Lorna – could be.
“I assume everyone is lying until proven otherwise,” Frankie said, her words conflicting with her simultaneously making funny faces at Lori Ann over the computer screen. “It’s on Page #1 of the Private Investigator’s Handbook.”
“And it’s pretty much the gist of the entire Lawyer’s Handbook,” Cass added. “So, don’t worry, we haven’t given up.”
“Just hit a dead end,” Felicia sighed sadly.
“Not at all,” Frankie attempted to keep all their spirits up. “Now we know that Carl was definitely planning to kidnap Elizabeth and Cory for at least a few days before he took off. This wasn’t some spur of the moment Hail Mary pass. He had plenty of time to set up both their alleged accident as well as find a place to hide out indefinitely.”
“Not to mention grab Lorna. Did this Mr. Lax say anything about Lorna?”
“He said that, as far as he knew, Carl was only planning on making a run with the kids.”
“But, then again,” Cass followed logically. “Considering how Lax allegedly reacted to Carl kidnapping his own children – he refused to have anything to do with it – Carl most likely saw no reason to mention he had designs on other people’s.”
“So what now?” Felicia asked.
Cass and Frankie exchanged glances. “We’re… still working out the details.” Which sounded a lot better than “We’re… temporarily stumped.” Instead, they changed the subject to: “How are things on the home front?”
“Gorgeous.” Felicia held up Lori Ann so that her Mommy and Daddy could get a gander at the baby’s latest ensemble.
“All it’s missing is the boa,” Cass joked.
“You insult me,” Felicia said, pulling one out from underneath the keyboard.
“And Charlie?” Frankie wondered. “Everything okay there?”
The length of Felicia’s pause did not inspire confidence in either parent’s heart.
“What’s going on, Felicia?” Cass asked.
“Charlie would like to defer going to college this year,” Felicia hoped that the physical distance between them might help soften the message.
It did not.
“Are you kidding me?” Cass exploded. “After everything we went through to – “
But, Frankie only cared about – “Why?”
“Kirkland is staying in town,” Felicia said. “He’s postponing Notre Dame until… until the Lorna situation is resolved. He’s worried about Jamie. So Charlie decided she wants to stay in town with him.”
“That’s ridiculous,” Cass huffed. “Absolutely not. Tell her – “
“Wait a minute,” Frankie interrupted. “Think about it, Cass. Charlie was dying to go to college. She practically started packing her suitcases the moment Sarah Lawrence said it was a go. If she’s changed her mind, it only speaks to how much she loves Kirkland.”
“Charlie is eighteen years old. Today she loves Kirkland, tomorrow it’s… it’s Justin Beiber! Or Che Guevara. Not that I know which I’d prefer.”
“We told her to be there for Kirkland. We even chided her about how insensitive we thought she was being immediately after the fact. Well, now Charlie is just doing what we said.”
“At her own expense!”
“She’s making a sacrifice for someone she loves. Shouldn’t we be encouraging that kind of behavior?”
“Where are your feminist principles, Mary Frances? You really want your teen-age daughter throwing her life away for some boy?” Cass managed to make the last word sound like an epithet.
“Taking one semester off is hardly throwing her life away. And, for the record, I want my daughter to be happy much more than I want her to hang any sort of political label around her neck. Especially to please me. I want Charlie to be Charlie. And that means her deciding what makes her happy without outside pressure or expectations.”
“What’s the point of having a kid,” Cass pouted. “If you can’t smother her with pressure and expectations?”
At which point Frankie knew that she – and Charlie – had won.
“Was that Iris I saw leaving?” Amanda asked Rachel after Russ had bid his farewell also.
Amanda grinned in anticipation. “I bet you really let her have it. Tell me everything, Mom. How did she react? Did she deny, deny, and then deny some more? Did she play the It’s Only Because I Love You All So Much card? Did she bring up Daddy? She had to bring up Daddy. It’s her go-to like Guliani and 9/11.”
“I didn’t say anything to Iris.”
“You didn’t?” Amanda’s eyes widened. “Why not? Was it because of what Hamilton said? About our getting the chronology wrong? Did you believe him?”
“Chase Hamilton is a politician. Which means he is incapable of telling the truth. I’ll find the flaws in his story. I just need a little more time.”
“So is that why you waited? Because you want to make sure you have all the facts before we confront Iris and toss her out of Cory Publishing for good?”
“No.” Rachel shook her head. “I am waiting, because I want to give Iris even more rope to hang herself with. I want to find out precisely what she’s really after. And how much she had to do with Hamilton’s take-down of Carl.”
Amanda realized something. “But, what if Hamilton gives Iris the heads’ up that you’ve been asking questions?”
“Even if he does, when I don’t say anything to her on the subject, she’ll assume I bought his lies.”
“And, at the very least, it will make her nervous. Nervous people make mistakes.”
“Precisely. I know what I’m doing. Rest assured, Amanda, by the time I’m through, everyone who’s ever hurt my family will have paid. And in ways they currently can’t even imagine.”
“Are you absolutely certain you want to do this?” Matt asked Donna, coming up behind her as she sat on their bed, cringing as she filled a syringe with the hormonal treatment that might one day, possibly – but not, according to Raya Ng, very likely – make her capable of sustaining a pregnancy.
“We agreed, Matthew. We both want a child.”
“Not at the cost of your life. I never agreed to that. You know how you don't want me to die? So much that you're willing to give up... Yeah, well, I don't want you to die, either. All those examples Dr. Ng brought up – “
“Were other people. Other people are not me, Matthew. I should hope you’d understand that by now.”
“You could die,” he refused to let up.
“We are all going to die. That’s not the question. The question is: What did we do with our lives while he had them?”
“You loved me,” Matt said. “Isn’t that enough?”
She hesitated. She thought about it. And then she shook her head. “No. I’m sorry, darling, but… no. Every other of my attempts at parenthood has ended in unmitigated disaster. I deserve the chance to set matters right.”
“This isn’t the only option, though! There’s surrogacy…”
“You having a child with another woman? How can that end in anything but disaster?”
“It wouldn’t be the surrogate’s child, it would be ours. Lots of people have done it!”
“I couldn’t bear it,” Donna told him simply. “The idea of our child being more connected to you and some other woman than to me….”
“How about adoption, then? The child wouldn’t be related to either of us biologically. Which means it would be equally ours in every way that matters.”
Again, Donna hesitated. “You would consider that? Raising a child that wasn’t truly yours?”
“Of course, I would. How could any son of Mac Cory’s not know that biology has very little to do with fatherhood? Look at how much Jamie loves Kirk. Look at Marley with Bridget and Michele. Look at Cass and Frankie with Lori Ann.” Matt wondered whether or not to push his luck, then decided to go for broke. “Look at Felicia and Lucas and Jenna.”
“All those people… I – I’m nothing like all those people. Those people are… good.”
“So are you.”
“Please, Donna,” he turned the request back on her. “Just think about it, would you? Before you decide to risk your life for something that can be gotten another way, would you please just think about it?”
“I’ve been thinking about it,” Rachel told Lila. “And I believe I’ve thought of a way that you can begin making up to me for letting Chase Hamilton into this house and facilitating his destruction of my husband. That is, if you’re still interested in making amends?”
“Yes. Yes, of course. Of course, I am, Rachel. Anything. I told you I’d do anything.”
Rachel said, “Your great friend, Grant, intends to run for Mayor in the next election.”
“You sound surprised. Weren’t you his staunchest supporter on the previous go-around?”
“Well, yes. But, he’s in such a different place in his life now, with Marley and…” Lila trailed off, unwilling to betray a confidence, wondering what the hell Grant was thinking.
Rachel paid no mind. “I gave him the idea. And told him he had my complete support – both moral and financial.”
“I intend to bury your other great friend, Mr. Hamilton, I hope you understand that.”
Lila gulped. “I – I can see why you’d feel that way.”
“Good. Because I have a role for you to play in Grant’s campaign. A slightly different one from last time.”
Something about the way she said it made Lila cautiously venture, “W-What?”
“I should like for you to seduce Mr. Hamilton. That shouldn’t be too difficult. You already told me there was some spark between you two previously, Douglas Rivera be damned. Chase did indicate that he is attracted to you, did he not?”
Unable to speak, Lila merely nodded dumbly.
“I would like for you to take advantage of that attraction now. I would like for you to get him in a compromising position, and then I would like for you to reveal your scandalous liaison publicly, and ruin him for good. Do you think you’re up to it, Lila?”
|Receive email notification every time www.anotherworldtoday.com is updated|