Considering the sort of Thanksgiving evening Rachel had, Alice waited until nearly noon of the following day before ringing Rachel’s doorbell. Alice inquired about Steven, only to learn that he’d gone into hibernation and wasn’t answering either calls or texts. She then filled Rachel in regarding Sarah deciding to spend the night at Russ’ place rather than face any more inquisitions, and passed on Amanda’s regards to her mother. Both women made a point of avoiding Iris’ name.
It was only after all that was out of the way that Alice got to the real point of her visit. She asked Rachel, “Why did you tell me what you did last night? About Lucas being involved in Marley’s alleged suicide attempt?”
“I had no idea you weren’t already aware,” Rachel insisted.
“Please,” Alice said softly. “You and I have been through too much together for either of us to lie to the other and expect to get away with it.”
Rachel smiled ruefully, conceded her point, and told the truth. “I just don’t think it’s fair.”
“That Spencer is dead, that Carl is dead. And that Lucas is walking around unscathed.”
“You would wish on him – “
“No! Not on him, not on Felicia. Of course, I wouldn’t. It just… isn’t fair.”
“Lucas spent seventeen years as a prisoner of the compound. You don’t think his dues were paid up in advance?”
“That’s not how it works,” Rachel sniffed. “Carl, Spencer and Lucas conspired together to bring the compound down. They were each involved equally. Why should Carl and Spencer be the only ones punished?”
“You’re certain that Carl and the children’s deaths….”
“What else could it have been?”
“A tragic accident. Accidents happen. Steve and the helicopter in Australia… The car crash that ended up killing him, and nearly you. Not everything needs to be a part of some grand conspiracy.”
“Carl Hutching was not the sort of man to perish in an accident,” Rachel reminded haughtily.
“Lucas,” Alice began cautiously. “Lucas fears that he hasn’t, in fact, gone unpunished. Lucas is afraid that Lorna’s death, along with Carl and the twins, was his payback.”
“There is no proof that Lorna was on that plane!”
“She disappeared the same day they did. That’s too big of a coincidence to dismiss.”
“An accident,” Rachel reminded. “A tragic, random accident.”
Alice said, “You know, if Lucas is on the right track, it is very possible that Carl wasn’t the one responsible for kidnapping Lorna. The compound might have grabbed her along with him and the children, forced them all on-board and crashed the plane.”
Rachel’s eyes lit up at a possibility she’d never previously considered.
“That means… That could mean that Carl didn’t take Cory and Elizabeth from me, either. It was the compound! Carl isn’t to blame!”
“Oh…” Rachel gasped, the full implication sinking in gradually.
Alice revealed, “You know that Iris is investigating Carl’s disappearance, as well.”
“Why would Iris….”
“She aims to prove that you colluded with Carl to fake his death and perpetrate a fraud against the US government.”
“My, but she has been busy.”
“She came to Lucas for help. He’s considering working with her. You can see why Lucas would desperately want to believe he had nothing to do with what happened to his daughter. This might be his only chance to get some answers.”
“Nothing good can come of Lucas working with Iris,” Rachel warned. “You know that they used to be engaged?”
“Actually, I didn’t know,” Alice said neutrally. “And I don’t see how it’s relevant.”
“You and Lucas…”
“Are friends,” Alice said.
Prompting Rachel to observe, “Please. You and I have been through too much together for either of us to lie to the other and expect to get away with it. Don’t you think?”
“Listen, Kevin,” Chase looked downright uncomfortable dropping by the Harrison mansion, obviously on his off-hours and equally obviously off his game. “I’m sorry to barge in like this, especially on a holiday. But, this was important so…”
“Okay,” Kevin exchanged confused looks with Amanda, but let the mayor of Bay City in and escorted him to his office, pointing for Chase to take a seat before asking, “What’s going on?”
“Doug and I, we owe you a hell of a lot. If you hadn’t taken care of Milagros and Ike’s adoptions for us…”
“Some other equally competent attorney would have.”
“Shockingly, there were some prospective parents’ lists Doug and I didn’t exactly make it to the top of.”
Kevin shrugged. “Free country. Free markets. I should think, with your leanings, you’d be supportive of both.”
“My point is, we both really appreciated you never making us feel less than.”
“I have a hard time imagining either you or Doug ever feeling less than anyone. You two are the poster-children for well-adjusted self-esteem. It’s why I thought you’d make such great parents.”
“Even after you flung our file at me and screamed that Doug was welcome to do a single parent adoption anytime, but I could go to Hell?”
“I - That was an… aberration. I was upset. You’d just told me you intended to charge Jenny and the rest of them with Gregory Hudson’s murder.”
“I didn’t understand it then. That kind of parental protectiveness. I do now. In fact,” the discomfort that had ebbed a bit while they talked returned with a vengeance. “That’s sort of what I’m here to talk to you about.”
“Horace’s murder,” Kevin guessed.
“You told me you didn’t think the facts added up.”
“The Springfield Police Department agrees with me. They believe Johnson and his killer were deliberately lured to their meeting site by a third party. They have emails and texts to and from both of them that appear to have been rerouted and altered. Also, the police getting there while Johnson was still breathing was a hell of a lucky break. Especially since the call that summoned them didn’t appear to originate from the station. Any later, and Johnson’s bone marrow wouldn’t have been viable for Jen’s transplant.”
Kevin inhaled sharply, instantly comprehending everything.
“They want to bring you in for questioning,” Chase said. “You had the best motive. Not that anyone would blame you.”
“Me,” Kevin repeated slowly.
“For a while, they were considering the boyfriend – Todd. Due to the superior computer knowledge that would’ve been necessary to pull this off so seamlessly. But, they looked into his records – thank you, Homeland Security, who needs a pesky warrant these days? – and there’s nothing there, not a trace that would connect any of the known machines he’s associated with to the doctored correspondence.”
“So that brought them to me?”
“Your connection to the Corys – or, rather, the Hutchinses – pretty much gives you access to anyone and anything these days. You have the means to hire professionals to get this sort of thing done and buried. Plus, a rep for bending the law, especially when it comes to your family.”
Kevin understood, “The Hutchins connection. You’re hoping this comes back to Rachel. After what she and Grant pulled.”
“Better her than you.”
“What are you suggesting?”
“Nothing,” Chase said. “I’m just giving you a head’s up. Because Doug and I owe you one. What happens next, though, ball’s in your court.”
“Hello, Sharlene,” John stood behind Allie and Zeno on his ex-wife’s doorstep. “May we come in, please?”
“Sure…” Her eyes darted nervously between all three of them, but she did as he asked, nonetheless.
“How was your Thanksgiving?” John asked politely. Also because he was stalling.
“Fine,” she said. “I went home to Chadwell for the day. It was good seeing everyone again. Of course, Frankie was missed. But, how can you keep them down on the farm once they’ve seen Dubai, right? How about you?”
John shrugged, dismissive, and changed topic yet again. He said, “Allie and her friend, here – “
“I know Zeno.” Sharlene asked, “Have you heard from Frankie lately? It isn’t like her to be out of touch for so long.”
“No,” Zeno said. “Neither has Charlie. I asked her last night, at the Corys’.”
“Allie and Zeno have a question for you,” John all but shoved them both forward. “Go ahead. Ask. I told you, Sharlene isn’t the beat around the bush type.”
“I….” Allie began. “I got… these. Stuck under the wipers of my car. They’re about Gregory. See?” She showed Sharlene the clippings and the dried flowers.
“There’s more,” Zeno persevered where Allie faltered. “Allie’s had profanity keyed and spray-painted on her car. And last night, somebody poured linseed into the engine. Now, probably the worst that would have happened is it would jam while she was driving and make her pull over suddenly. But, if she’d been on the highway or something, it could have really been dangerous. Plus, there’s always the risk of fire.”
“What does this have to do with Gregory?” Sharlene asked the only thing she cared about.
“Zeno thinks her culprit is angry that Allie has moved on from Gregory. That this is their way of expressing their displeasure. By threatening Allie.”
“Culprit,” Sharlene repeated, unamused.
Zeno said, “The whole time Frankie was living with me and my mom, she… she didn’t remember being Frankie Frame. She thought that she was this whole other person, Mary Ordway, and so – “
“You’d heard that type of mental illness runs in the family.”
“Yes,” Zeno said. “I’ve read up on Dissociate Personality Disorder and – “
Sharlene nodded her head up and down. “Well, far be it for me to contradict anything you may have read on Wikipedia, but, the problem with your theory is that, if it were Sharly who was tormenting your girlfriend here, it wouldn’t make any sense. Sharly didn’t have any feelings for Gregory. He was my son. Not hers.”
“I told them it was ridiculous,” John interrupted.
“Which is why,” Sharlene talked over him. “The person you’re looking for isn’t Sharly. It’s me.”
“Jamie!” Dr. Raya Ng caught up as he was walking down the hospital hallway, matching her pace to his. “I’m surprised to see you here today.”
“I could say the same,” he noted.
“Well, you know, babies don’t take days off from being born.”
“Neither do new admissions, unfortunately.”
“I just thought you’d be home, celebrating with your kids.”
“We did that yesterday at my mother’s. And believe me, there was enough excitement for everyone. The hospital feels downright restful in comparison.”
“That’s why I come in on the holidays,” Raya admitted. “At least here, I can feel a little bit in control. Out there…”
“Did you need me for something?” Jamie asked before turning to head into yet another patient’s room. The last thing he wanted to discuss was a life feeling out of control.
“Oh. No. I mean, yes.”
He smiled. “I’m listening.”
“Jamie, I…” Her eyes darted everywhere but in his direction. “Okay, see, here’s the thing. About three years ago, after I first started at BCH, I – I watched you. With your patients and with your kids when you’d bring them in and I – I liked you and I asked around and I learned you were single and straight and I told myself, first chance I got, I would, you know, do the logical thing and ask you out. But, every time that chance came up, I, well, I did the equally logical thing and… flaked. And then, next thing I know, I’m delivering Lorna’s and your babies.”
This was news to Jamie, and thus the first thing that came to his mind to say was, “Trust me, Raya, if you had asked me out three years ago, it… wouldn’t have worked. Not because of you. Because of me. I wasn’t ready for – “
“You were ready for Lorna.”
“No one is ever ready for Lorna. Lorna just shows up in your life like a thunder-clap, and there she is.”
“Anyway, I know how inappropriate this sounds. Lorna’s only been… gone for less than six months, but…. After the last time, I told myself I wouldn't miss my chance again. I told myself just this morning that, first opportunity I get to… And then there you were, also working the day after Thanksgiving. I decided it was a sign telling me to go for it.”
“Go for it? Go for what? Me?” Jamie was smiling in amusement, but not at her, at himself. “Are you asking me out, Raya?”
He saw how much courage it took her to answer a solid, “Yes.”
“I’m sorry,” Jamie said.
“I understand,” Rays blurted quickly, feeling herself start to turn scarlet.
“No, you don’t,” Jamie corrected gently. “I’m not turning you down because of you. If things were different…. I’m turning you down because my wife is still alive. And she’s coming back to me and to our kids. I have absolutely no doubts about that.”
“Let me in,” Kevin banged on Steven’s dormitory room door. “I’m not your father or your grandmother or Iris. I don’t give a damn about you and Sarah or her baby. This is about Jenny. Now open the Goddamn door.”
It took a moment. Kevin could practically hear the boy weighing his options on the other side. But, finally he did.
“Is Jen alright?” Steven asked.
“Not for long.” Kevin pushed his way inside and turned around to face the younger man, not in the mood for social pleasantries. “The police have figured it out. They know that the guy who shot Johnson was set up.”
“How could they….”
“Because not everyone is the idiot you take them for. The problem with a perfect crime is that it draws attention to its own perfection. When evidence is dumped in your lap like that, you start wondering what you missed. So you dig deeper. And you find out, yeah, the shooter pulled the trigger. But, who got them down to that ally, and what for? That’s when you start looking for another motive. And, with Johnson, all motive comes back to Jenny. Cui buno? Who benefits most from an almost dead Johnson? She does. I do.”
“Jen didn’t have anything to do with – “
“No. Jenny is innocent. But, the guy who set her father up to be killed, he’s looking at a murder charge, no two ways around it.”
“They’ll never prove anything.”
“They will,” Kevin corrected. “Because you and I are going to sit down right now, and we’re not going to get up again until you’ve taken me, step by step, exactly through how you got Horace Johnson murdered.”
Despite Jamie’s deadline of Thanksgiving, Grant didn’t say a word to Marley as they drove home. He didn’t say anything to her as they lay side by side in bed that night, or when she left the following morning for a shopping trip with Bridget and Michele.
Instead, Grant sat at home and tried to figure out how exactly he’d gotten himself into this mess – and how he could get out of it?
Unfortunately, by the time Marley and the girls returned in the afternoon, loaded down with items they intended to take down to the church for the annual Christmas Toy Drive, Grant was no closer to an answer than he had been while facing Jamie.
He kept waiting for the right moment. The right moment for what? Was there ever a right moment to drop a hand-grenade into your life?
He watched Marley with Michele and Bridget, wrapping the gifts, adorning them with bows and ribbons, draping about as many around their wrists and heads as they did the presents, laughing all the while. He thought about how much Marley looked like Vicky, even now. And about how much that didn’t matter anymore. He hadn’t thought about their resemblance… Hadn’t thought about Vicky at all except in passing…. For weeks. She was Kirkland’s mother. She always would be. And Bridget and Michele’s. But, she wasn’t his anything anymore. The obsession that had gripped Grant for close to twenty years was nothing beyond a memory now. Sometimes nostalgic, sometimes painful. Definitely past. Of course, it was easy to be magnanimous when Vicky was gone. And Jake. And their daughters lived under his roof. Not the child he would have preferred, but it was still something. Marley only rounded out the picture of domestic perfection. On paper, Grant had a wife and children and an eighteen year old son who, naturally, didn’t live at home anymore; nothing wrong with that. He was a very blessed man. Who’d spent the bulk of the day wondering if those fancy drapes Lila made him buy might make an adequate noose.
Jamie had threatened to go to Chase with what he knew. And from the look in his eyes, Grant realized the former milk toast wasn’t bluffing. Sure, there was no hard evidence. But, Grant sincerely doubted the good mayor would let that stop him. Chase was bound to broadcast the scandal from every rooftop. Did Grant really want Marley finding out like that?
Marley was upset enough just thinking Steven was the father. After Michele and Bridget had gone to bed, Marley told Grant, “They kept pestering me with questions about Sarah and the baby. They wanted to know why I thought she hadn’t told them about Steven in the first place? They’re so excited, they’re going to be aunts!”
“Did you know Steven and Sarah were back together?” Grant asked, the germ of an idea beginning to form in his mind.
She shook her head. “I don’t know that they necessarily are or even were. Maybe it was a one-night stand of some sort, long after they’d broken up. I know Sarah was madly in love with him in the beginning. I can only imagine how heartbroken she must have felt when matters didn’t go anywhere - again. She’s so sensitive. A crushing rejection from someone she cared about…. Maybe that’s why she wants to give the baby away. It’s too painful of a reminder of their relationship.”
“I think Sarah was telling the truth when she said she doesn’t feel ready or old enough to be a mother. I respect her for that. Though, I must say, now that you mention it might have been just a fling with Steven this time around, a one night stand… “
“I’m guessing. I don’t know for sure. This is so unlike both of them…”
“Accidents happen,” Grant reminded, unconsciously echoing Bay City’s meme of the day. “Not to make too fine a point of it, but neither Steven or Sarah were exactly planned by their respective parents, were they? And weren’t both Vicky and Olivia unsure of who the true fathers were? Vicky just got lucky that it turned out to be Jamie after all, when she was sure Steven was Jake’s. Olivia was obviously hoping for the same with Dennis and Sam, only it didn’t quite work out in her case.”
“So you’re saying it’s genetic?” Marley wasn’t sure whether or not he was joking.
“I’m saying that… I’m saying, Marley, that I need to tell you something. I’m not sure how or… To tell you the truth, I didn’t think the issue would ever come up. But, now, I… I… Marley….”
“What is it? My God, Grant, you’re as pale as a ghost, what’s wrong?”
“Marley. Before Sarah confessed that Steven was her baby’s father, she – she accused me of the same thing.”
|Receive email notification every time www.anotherworldtoday.com is updated|