“Don’t let me interrupt,” Amanda drawled, after her entrance to the prison’s visitor area effectively quenched the laugh Kevin and Lila were sharing.
“Amanda.” Kevin stood up, as if they were at a dinner party. “I didn’t know you were coming.”
“So you made other plans?” Amanda indicated Lila.
“Just keeping your chair warm,” Lila also stood, shoving the item in question at Amanda, her tone both butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-my-mouth, and accusatory. A Southern specialty.
“Thank you.” Amanda crossed the room and took a seat, her back to Lila, effectively indicating that she was dismissed. A Cory specialty.
“Lila’s been coming to see me,” Kevin informed Amanda coolly. “And I’ve appreciated the company.”
Amanda blinked in surprise. She’d honestly assumed her show of dissatisfaction would cower both Lila and Kevin. The fact that it didn’t proved… vexing.
“Thank you, Lila,” Kevin continued.
“Anytime,” she assured, before heading out the door with one final smile for Kevin… and one for Amanda, too.
“Would you like me to account for my whereabouts?” Kevin inquired, returning to his seat. “I’ve got an alibi for pretty much every second of my last few months.”
“Don’t be stupid,” Amanda grumbled.
“Lila came to me about a legal matter,” Kevin lied smoothly. Especially since it was, more or less, the truth, too. “But, she continued coming because I asked her to.”
“And because I wasn’t.” Amanda dared her husband to disagree.
He didn’t. “Yes.”
“I’m not like Lila. I have a job. I have responsibilities. Iris may be temporarily distracted playing great-grandmother, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t still plotting to steal Cory Publishing right out from under me. And Mom isn’t exactly any help. She’s too busy chasing the Ghosts of Hutchins’ Past to take any interest in the company.”
“I understand,” he said, before adding, “I also understand that you are furious with me over what I’ve done. Both the setting up of Horace and the confessing to it.”
“We could have fought it!”
“I don’t want to fight. Not my conviction, and not you. I’ve told you over and over again how sorry I am, Amanda. I’ve offered you a divorce. That offer still stands.”
“Okay. Then we have to figure out a way to make this work.”
“Or else what?” Amanda challenged. “Or should that be… who?”
The email from Frankie was brief and to the point:
Have a family emergency, won’t be able to continue the case. Attached find the records from both Allie’s cell-phone and her email. Based on the results, I’d suggest you check out McGill University in Montreal.
Grant did as she advised. But, when he emailed her back with thanks, Frankie didn’t respond.
“Keep your distance,” Donna warned at the sight of Olivia approaching her KBAY-TV office the next morning.
“Why?” Olivia snapped. “You’re not the one I’m accused of trying to kill. You’ve got nothing to fear from me.”
“I’d beg to differ.”
“So would I,” Olivia agreed.
“I’ll call the police,” Donna reached for her phone.
“Twice in one week? They’re going to start calling you The Bitch Who Cried Wolf.”
“It won’t look particularly good for you, either.”
“I am currently out on bail,” Olivia stressed the last word. “Things haven’t exactly been going my way for a while now.”
“Something to think about the next time you throw yourself at a married man.”
“I didn’t need to throw myself at Matt. A gentle tap was all it took.”
“You could have killed him.”
“Bullshit. Jamie says – “
“Jamie!” Donna leapt on the name as a graceful way to change the subject. “What did Jamie have to say about your – “
“Jamie’s the one who bailed me out,” Olivia informed smugly.
It made perfect sense to Donna. “He never had any judgment. Especially where women are concerned.”
“How about you let me handle Jamie?”
“How about you let me handle Matt?”
Olivia grinned. “But, wasn’t that the problem? That you weren’t… handling him?”
“What a cheap piece of trash you are.”
“And still, your husband preferred me? Why is that, do you think?”
“Where is he now?” Donna challenged.
“With you,” Olivia agreed amiably.
“The question is: For how long?”
“If I were you, Olivia,” Donna demurred. “I’d be asking that question about my potential jail sentence.”
Olivia snorted. “Just how far do you intend to take this joke? You really think I’m going to get prison time for screwing your husband? That’d be a hell of a precedent to set. You think America’s jails are overcrowded now….”
“My husband’s life is the most important thing in the world to me,” Donna told Olivia. “I will do anything necessary to keep him well.”
“I know your real goal here is to humiliate me,” Olivia dismissed. “Get a couple of juicy headlines out about what a slut I am.”
“They practically write themselves, don’t they?”
“But, you’re hardly going to come off any better. Anyone who asks why Matt turned to me – I’m telling them the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”
“Go ahead. It doesn’t matter.” Donna stressed, “Don’t you understand, you dim, little twit? The only thing that matters is Matthew. I don’t care whom I have to sacrifice. And that includes myself.”
“Got a minute, Dad?” Steven poked his head into Jamie’s office at the hospital, Jen standing right behind him.
Jamie looked up from the file he was reading and smiled. “For you? Always, you know that. Hi, Jen.”
“Hello, Dr. Frame.”
“Come in, both of you. What’s going on?”
“We wanted to tell you something.” Steven actually looked sheepish, a development Jamie found particularly intriguing. “Jen and I – we’re getting married.”
Jamie’s head popped back in surprise. “Oh. That – that is a surprise.”
“Not right away,” Steven clarified. “Jen wants to wait until Kevin is out of jail. So that he can walk her down the aisle.”
“But, that’s…” Jamie tried to remember.
“Still another two years away,” Jen supplied.
“We’re engaged, though.” Steven picked up Jen’s hand to show Jamie the ring.
“That was your mother’s,” Jamie recognized.
“Yeah. The one Ryan gave her. Aunt Marley said I could have it – she didn’t want Bridget and Michele fighting over it down the line and Kirk didn’t care – I hope Ryan wouldn’t have minded.”
“Ryan loved you,” Jamie said. “I’m sure he would have been thrilled.”
“You don’t look too thrilled,” Steven observed. “And I don’t mean about the ring.”
Jamie shook his head ruefully. “I thought you were the one of my kids who wasn’t any good at reading people.”
“I can when it’s important.”
“It’s nothing personal,” Jamie assured Jen.
“You just don’t want me marrying her,” Steven prompted sarcastically.
“I’m not sure if you’re ready to marry anyone,” Jamie said. “You’re still so young.”
“How old were you?”
“Exactly. My first marriage, when I was about your age, was a disaster. And so was the one after that. And the one after that. I got damn lucky with Lorna. For a variety of reasons. But a big one is that we were both adults. We’d been around a few times. We knew what we wanted, and what we didn’t want.”
“Grant’s older than you,” Steven reminded. “And it isn’t like age has offered him any wisdom. Or Aunt Marley for that matter.”
“Can you think of anyone in Bay City,” Jamie challenged. “Whose first marriage worked out?”
“I’m not anyone in Bay City. And neither is Jen.”
“You asked my opinion,” Jamie kept his tone neutral.
“Actually, I didn’t. I just said you didn’t look thrilled.”
“You’re right,” Jamie conceded.
“I understand your concerns, Dr. Frame,” Jen spoke. “Honestly, if you’d asked me even six months ago if I thought I was ready to get married, I would have told you I wasn’t. I’m not going to claim that being sick changed my mind, either. You know, the old: life is short let’s not waste a moment of it cliché?”
“So what did change your mind?” Jamie asked, genuinely curious.
“Steven,” she said simply. “All I have to do is imagine my life without him, and I realize that’s not an option. We’re going to be together for the long haul. If only because no one else would ever put up with either one of us for long.”
“That’s quite a selling point,” Jamie smiled.
“I’m being honest.”
“So, frankly, it doesn’t really matter if we get married or we don’t get married. We kind of already are. The rest is just a legal technicality.”
Jamie leaned back in his chair, reminiscing, “I once told Lorna, before we were married, that we were already a hell of a lot more than that; we didn’t need paperwork to prove it.”
“Then you understand.”
“Yeah.” He bobbed his head. “I understand.”
“I have to go out of town for a few days,” Grant informed Marley, Michele and Bridget over dinner.
“Where are you going?” Michele wondered.
“A business meeting, nothing very interesting.” He asked Marley, “Will you be okay all by yourself with the girls?”
Marley looked at Grant oddly. “I’ve been taking care of the girls on my own for over a decade.”
“I meant Daisy,” Grant said.
“We’ll be fine,” she reassured.
“We could always hire a night-nurse. She’s still waking a up several – “
“We’ll be fine,” Marley repeated more firmly. “Bridget and Michele can help me.”
“Pass,” Michele said, even as Bridget offered, “Sure.”
“You know you have nothing to prove to me,” Grant insisted. “I know you love her, and I know you take great care of her.”
“Then what’s the problem?”
“I just don’t want you feeling overwhelmed. Promise me you’ll hire a babysitter so you can at least go into work for a couple of hours, or hit the gym, get some Me Time.”
“How long do you plan to be gone, Grant?” Marley asked.
“Until I get my way,” Grant said.
Rachel told herself it wasn’t her ego talking. The fact was, these days, whenever Mayor Chase Hamilton called a press conference, it inevitably had something to do with her.
And, in light of the none-too-subtle threat he’d lobbed her way earlier, she figured it behooved her to tune in and discover what new mud he was planning on tossing her way, this week.
As Rachel expected, after the initial pleasantries and thanking the assembled press for coming, Chase launched right into his by now well tread litany of Carl’s sins. He talked about the charges Carl had ducked by attempting to flee the country, and about the fact that no wreckage had yet to be recovered from the alleged plane crash.
The only difference was that, this time, Chase focused on the fact that Elizabeth and Cory were presumed to be on-board with Carl.
Rachel leaned forward, all but shaking the television set in fury. It was one thing for the self-righteous son-of-a-bitch to malign herself or Carl. They were adults. But, he had no right to be dragging her children into this, no right at all.
Chase was saying something about Cory now and about Rachel’s phone. About how, thanks to the Patriot Act as well as some more recent legislation, it was now legal for the government to listen in on private citizen’s phone calls. Chase, himself, was vehemently against the legislation – he’d voted against it whenever the opportunity came up, that was a matter of public record. But, he reasoned, as long as it was available, he had every right to take advantage of it.
Rachel froze. Already suspecting what he was about to do, but, at the same time, thinking no, that would be impossible… he couldn’t have….
Mayor Chase Hamilton perched a recording device on his podium. And proceeded to play – amplified – Cory’s static-filled call from earlier that March.
She heard her son, once again, saying, “Mom?” Followed by a great deal of signal interference, followed by, “Lorna….”
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