“Thanks for coming.” John looked from Charlie to Frankie to Cass, each sitting in his office, neither looking particularly pleased to be there.
“Is there a problem?” Cass had been looking distinctively green ever since John called and asked them to come in. Not that Charlie and Frankie appeared much better. They kept exchanging nervous glances, with Frankie doing her best to look encouraging.
John nodded. “I’ve been studying Charlie’s blood-work. It doesn’t look like the medication we’ve been giving her has been absorbing properly. We may need to up the dosage.”
“But, she’s fine,” Frankie interrupted. “She’s been doing great. Haven’t you, Charlie?”
Her daughter nodded faintly. “Yeah…”
“You know this disease has peaks and valleys. Charlie may just be in a particularly good place right now. But, we can’t risk a recurrence of what happened this winter.”
“So what you’re saying is, she’s doing fine now, but let’s drug her a little more in case some point down the line she isn’t?”
“That’s not what he’s saying, Frankie,” Cass corrected gently. “He’s saying Charlie hasn’t responded to the lithium the way they’d like.”
“According to his tests, not according to what I see in front of me. What’s more important here, that Charlie is healthy, or some numbers on a print-out?”
“What’s important is that Charlie stays healthy,” Cass said.
“She will,” Frankie swore. “We’ve taken care of her this far. We can keep doing it. Without any extra medication.”
Jen leaned back in her chair. “That’s how you ask someone to marry you, Frame? By comparing it to computer code.”
“No,” Steven said. “That’s how I ask you to marry me. Because I knew you’d get it.”
“You’re damn lucky I did.”
“No. Just observant.”
“No,” he repeated. “I knew how to ask you. I don’t know how you’ll answer.”
She hesitated. “You meant it, didn’t you?”
“I never say anything I don’t mean.”
“You really want me to marry you?”
“See above,” Steven said with a smile.
Jen smiled too, then just as quickly stopped when she remembered… “I – When I got out of the hospital, the doctors told me… they said that I… I might not be able to have kids.”
“I figured,” Steven said. “Because of the radiation treatments. That’s a common side effect.”
“And it doesn’t matter to you?”
Steven shrugged. “Not right now. I’m not even thinking about that right now.”
“But, down the line…”
“Down the line, it will either be true, or it won’t. If it’s not true, then it’s irrelevant, and if it is true, then we’ll figure out how to proceed based on the circumstances and options available then.”
“You make it sound so easy.”
“Not easy; binary. Either/Or. No sense worrying about it now. We’ll burn that bridge when we come to it.”
“I’m not even sure if I want to have kids. Ever.”
“Really? I mean, you’re so close to your brother and your sisters…”
“Exactly. I know how much work it takes to raise a kid. I watched my dad and my Aunt Marley. Maybe I’ve got better things to do. I’m not ruling anything out, but it’s certainly not a deal breaker for me.”
“There’s one more thing,” Jen said.
“I wouldn’t want to get married until my dad is out of jail.”
“Oh,” Steven said.
“He did so much for me. My whole life and, well, now. I want a chance to thank him publicly. To show that I’m not embarrassed by him. I think I could do that by having him walk me down the aisle. It’s really important to me. Would that be okay with you, Steven? Waiting for my dad to get out of prison?”
“You came,” Olivia said in surprise.
“You called,” Jamie reminded, stepping through the front door of the Matthews’ house.
“I wanted to talk to you. But, I didn’t want to intrude on you at home with the kids, or at work. I wasn’t sure how you’d feel about seeing me.”
“Dennis filled me in,” Jamie advised.
“I figured he would. I’m surprised he hasn’t posted the video on YouTube, yet.”
“Dennis is old school. He’s going door to door like the town crier.”
Olivia smiled weakly. “I’m sorry,” she said.
Jamie shrugged. “Shouldn’t you be apologizing to Donna?”
“I think Matt’s got that under control. You should have seen him trailing after her like a guilty puppy.”
“You don’t think he has anything to feel guilty about?”
“He loves her,” Olivia said. “Donna. Except she wasn’t putting out. So what did she expect him to do?”
“Forget about Matt,” Jamie said. “And Donna. You’re the one I don’t get. Why were you bothering with a married guy? A married guy who loves his wife, no less! You can do so much better!”
“Right.” Olivia rolled her eyes. “Exhibit A) You just leapt at the chance to…”
“I’m married, too,” Jamie said. “And in love with my wife. Don’t use me as your litmus test.”
“It felt nice to be wanted,” Olivia said. “Matt wanted me.”
“A lot of guys would want you. And not merely to be used as beards to cover up your affair…”
Olivia cringed. “You figured that one out, too, huh?”
“The show at Kirkland’s birthday party. You said it was for Dennis’ benefit. You were really doing it for Donna’s, weren’t you?”
“Matt was worried she’d start suspecting something. So I decided to throw her off the scent by making everyone think you and I were involved.”
“Well, it worked where Kirkland was concerned. Now that I’m supposedly with you, he’s agreed to got to Notre Dame in the fall.”
“That’s good. That’s what you wanted.”
“And it worked with Dennis, too.”
“Which didn’t end quite so well.”
“Seems to me like you two have a lot of unfinished business.”
“Only of the homicidal variety.”
As if to punctuate her statement, at that moment, the doorbell rang. Olivia went to answer it. Only to find a pair of policemen on the other side.
“Olivia Matthews,” the first one said. “You are under arrest for attempted murder.”
“You’ve been encouraging Charlie not to take her pills, haven’t you?” Cass cut straight to the chase as soon as they got home and their daughter was out of earshot.
Frankie opened her mouth to deny. But, when she looked into Cass’ eyes, his no-nonsense expression and still, in spite of everything, his obvious love for her, all she could bring herself to say was, “Yes.”
He nodded thoughtfully, her confirmation utterly unnecessary, yet still appreciated. “Thank you for being honest with me. Finally.”
“I would have told you earlier, but…”
“You knew how I felt about it.”
“Has she taken any of the prescribed medication at all?”
“Not since leaving the hospital.”
“And there have been no problems?”
“None. I have been giving her Omega-3 fatty acids. Also magnesium, St. John’s Wort, some SAMe’s.”
“And she’d been tolerating them alright?”
“Better than alright. You’ve seen her the past few weeks, Cass. We finally have out little girl back. She’s Charlie again.”
“Until the next time,” he warned.
“There won’t be a next time. Or, if there is, we know what to look out for now. We’ll keep a close eye on her. If it starts to seem like – “
“You think Charlie will appreciate that? Our watching her every moment of the day?”
“It beats being turned into a chemical zombie. And it won’t be forever. Just until she stabilizes.”
“You should have told me from the start,” Cass couldn’t let go.
“I tried. I tried to reason with you. You wouldn’t hear of it. You insisted the lithium was our only option. Now that you’ve seen that it isn’t – “
“You should have trusted me. Charlie is our daughter. Ours, not just yours.”
“I know that. But, I didn’t want you to worry.”
“My daughter has bipolar disorder. I am going to worry about that every minute of every day for as long as I live.”
“She’s fine now, Cass. Just look at her. Listen to her. She’s broken up with Kirkland – that relationship was causing her so much unnecessary stress. He wasn’t the right boy for her; it’s obvious in retrospect. Nobody’s fault, these things happen, it’s a part of growing up. Perfectly normal. And her obsession with Zeno… that’s over with, too. I’m glad I asked him to come talk to her, I think it really helped her see that there was no future for the two of them. Charlie is ready to start over. A clean slate. That’s exactly what she needs right now. It’s what all of us need.”
Cass listened quietly to Frankie. And then, when she was finished, he simply turned and walked away without another word.
“Abuelo?” Milagros jumped up to try and grab the phone out of Doug’s hand. “Is that Abuelo? Let me talk to him. Please, Papa, please!”
“In a minute,” Doug held the receiver out of her reach over his head. “Abuelo needs to talk to your Daddy first.” He handed Chase the phone.
“Eduardo!” Chase boomed, stepping into another room and closing the door behind him. “How are things on the continent?”
“Charming,” Eduardo was happy to report. “In fact, I’ve just spent a most charming evening with one Ms. Gallant and one Mrs. Hutchins. Precisely as you asked….”
“You know something,” Iris accused Allie, wondering if this were the first time that sentence had been lobbed in this dim-witted child’s direction. “You know where Sarah has gone.”
“I don’t,” Allie said simply, not appreciating being cornered in the Cory kitchen, but taking her aunt’s attack in stride. She’d been expecting it for weeks.
“I don’t believe you. You and Sarah are the best of friends. She trusted you to deliver that missive to Grant about Daisy.”
“She didn’t tell me where she was going specifically so I wouldn’t be able to tell anyone who asked,” Allie noted reasonably.
“But, she trusted you to know that she was leaving. Did she tell you when she’d be back, at least?”
“What do you mean, no? Surely, Sarah isn’t intending to abandon her child forever?”
“Sarah thinks Daisy would be better off with Marley.”
“No, she doesn’t,” Iris insisted despite all facts to the contrary. “She’s confused. Olivia set the world’s worst example, and now Sarah fears following in that horrible mother of hers footsteps. Nothing could be more absurd.”
“Sarah’s seen a lot of lousy mothers,” Allie said without pointing fingers. “She doesn’t want to turn into one. She wants better for Daisy.”
“And that is most certainly not Marley. Tell me something, Allie,” Iris lowered her voice to a just-us-girls purr. “Did Sarah leave any legal papers signing over custody of Daisy?”
“I don’t think so. At least, there weren’t any in the letter I gave Grant.”
“Well, that settles it, then. Obviously she intends to come back. And she would do it all the sooner, too, if she knew that Marley were planning to adopt Daisy as her own. We have to let her know about it. We have to give her the chance to come back and stop this. If Sarah didn’t leave adoption papers for Marley then obviously she didn’t want Marley claiming her child. We have to warn her. Please, Allie, you simply must tell me where I can find Sarah. Before it’s too late!”
|Receive email notification every time www.anotherworldtoday.com is updated|