“Isn’t this thrilling?” Donna trilled to Matt as they followed a suitcase-laden bellboy into their hotel room in Switzerland. Donna thrust open the curtains and gazed rapturously upon the city of Zurich. “Cass and Frankie believe they have the market cornered on romantic sleuthing expeditions. And look at us now! We’ll give them a run for their money!”
Though thrilled to see Donna so happy – it had been a long time since the weight of the world hadn’t rested so conspicuously on her shoulders – Matt nevertheless felt obliged to point out, “We haven’t exactly… sleuthed… anything yet.”
“Tomorrow,” she promised. “We’ll get started tomorrow. I have the name of the clinic and the doctor. We should have our answers in no time.”
“What if they’re not the answers you want to hear?” Matt generously tipped the bellboy, closed the door, and plopped down on the bed, resting on his elbow, looking up at his wife adoringly… yet cautiously. He couldn’t let Donna’s imagination – or her hopes – run away with her. She’d been disappointed too many times already.
“Whatever do you mean?” She turned around, confused.
“What if Carl is telling the truth?”
“But he was here! He was supposed to be dead, yet he was here, in Switzerland, at a luxury spa instead of holed up in some cave, fearing for his life, subsisting on roots and berries and… and…” Donna’s knowledge of things eaten by those below her social stature had come to stammering end.
“Well, we know he wasn’t dead,” Matt pointed out reasonably. “And he could have had a perfectly good reason for being at the spa.”
“You said we’re meeting with a doctor tomorrow. Carl could have brought Lorna here for medical treatment.”
“Your Lorna was suffering from a brain injury, darling. An eye-lift was hardly going to fix that.”
“First,” Matt raised a single finger. “She’s not my Lorna.” In response to Donna’s look, he amended, “At least she hadn’t been for a very long time.”
“I should hope not!”
“And second, doctors have been known to possess more than one specialty – “
“Not when the first is so lucrative.”
“ – Especially doctors willing to treat patients who might not be precisely on the right side of the law.”
“But, if that’s the case, then we shall have proof that Carl is up to no good!”
“Not necessarily,” Matt noted. “The doctor might be crooked. And it’s very possible that Carl knows him from the bad old days. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean that, in this case, Carl’s motives were anything less than noble.”
“Why in the world are you saying these things?” Donna joined Matt on the bed. “You want to catch Carl red-handed as much as I do!”
“Just playing Devil’s Advocate.”
“And attempting to manage your expectations.”
“I expect to turn up ample evidence that proves Carl is still the same monster he always was. Only now, instead of preying on strangers, he’s cannibalized his own family!”
“I guess you’re a big believer in beginner’s luck, huh? When it comes to detective work, I mean?” Matt asked. At the same time as he began nibbling on his wife’s neck, hoping to distract her inner Sherlock Holmes.
“Au contraire,” Donna made no move to stop Matt even as she continued talking. “I believe in the truth eventually coming out. That aphorism has always worked against me in the past. If there is any karmic justice in this world, I’m deservedly overdue for it to come out in my favor.”
“Well, this is certainly a pleasant surprise.” Alice needed to stand on tip-toe in order to kiss Dennis’ cheek as she led him inside the Harrison house. “I feel as if it’s been forever since I’ve seen you.”
“Sorry about that,” Dennis winced. “I’ve had… a lot going on.”
“I understand,” Alice assured him as they sat down across from each other. “So what brings you here now?”
“Couldn’t I have just come by to say hello?”
“Hello,” Alice chirped, her eyes twinkling.
“Hi.” He couldn’t help smiling back.
“What can I help you with, Dennis?”
“It’s not exactly that…” he began, realizing that perhaps his plan was a bit more nebulous than Dennis had originally thought. “It’s just that… Listen, Alice, I know this is none of my business. Hell, if you dating my father was none of my business, then you and Lucas, certainly…”
“This is about Lucas?”
“Yes,” Dennis exhaled.
“I – I found out something about him recently. Were you already back in Bay City when Marley supposedly tried to commit suicide in her garage?”
“Yes,” Alice said. “In fact, I was working in the Emergency Room when she was brought in that night.”
“Marley denied trying to kill herself, didn’t she?”
“Yes. But, that’s relatively common. Considering how guilty she must have been feeling about Lorna’s accident….”
“She did feel guilty about that. She still does. Marley is a good person. Almost too good, you know? She feels everything so deeply. But she didn’t try to commit suicide because of Lorna. She didn’t try to commit suicide at all. Marley was right all along. It was a set up. The attempt on her life, it was directed at Donna. And Lucas was the one who staged the whole thing.”
“I’m sorry, what?” Alice cocked her head to the side.
“You know that he, Carl and Spencer were working together to bring down the compound.”
“Well, the idea was to make it look like Donna’s family was in danger, so she’d release her file. When it turned out there was no file, Carl, Spencer and Lucas faked one and released it to the authorities anyway, hoping the compound would go after Donna in revenge, not them.”
“And when that failed, Carl helpfully sent them in Spencer’s direction.” Alice recalled dryly. “Yes, I remember.”
“But, did you know about Lucas’ role in targeting Marley?”
“No,” Alice admitted.
“I didn’t think so. I mean, I know you two are… close, these days. So I thought – I thought I should fill you in.”
“Why?” Alice wondered.
“Well, because… you had a right to know the truth.”
“Are you sure that’s all?” Alice pressed him unexpectedly. Dennis hadn’t planned for that to happen.
“Yeah. Totally. What – what else could there be?”
Alice asked, “Did Marley tell you this about Lucas?”
“Yes. After Donna told her. She found out from Rachel.”
“There’s a pair whose word you can always take at face value.”
“Marley confronted Lucas. He confirmed it.”
“I believe you,” Alice said.
“I just thought you should know,” Dennis repeated. “That’s all.”
Alice smiled wistfully. “That, my darling, I don’t believe at all.”
“Where’s Marley?” Daisy was still rubbing the sleep from her eyes as she came downstairs after her nap.
Grant put down the newspaper he’d been reading, smiled and held out his arms. “She had to step out for a bit. Come give me a hug.”
Daisy shook her head, walking right past Grant to plop into the chair next to where he was sitting and crossing her legs – ladylike – just like Marley had taught her. “Later.”
Grant let the slight go, aiming for bigger fish. “Daisy?”
“What?” She looked across at Grant like a princess surveying her subject.
“Do you think you could answer a question for Daddy?”
“What will you give me?”
He nearly choked on a combination of laughter and surprise. “What will I give you?”
“To answer you question,” she explained reasonably.
“Do I ask you to give me something when I answer your questions? And you do ask a great many questions.”
“You’re my Daddy.” Her tone suggested she was growing bored explaining the obvious.
“Just tell me this, Daisy,” Grant was quickly running out of patience. “Does your Mommy… Does Sarah ever have… friends over to visit when you’re there?”
“Men or women?”
“Do you know any of their names?” he wondered.
“Allie,” Daisy said confidently.
“Right. Allie,” Grant mumbled. “Of course. Anyone else?”
“What about when I took you to your Mommy’s house the other day? Remember? Did she have a friend there with her then?”
“Uh-ha,” Daisy said.
“Was it a man?”
“Do you know his name?”
“Yes,” Daisy said.
“Before you say anything,” Kevin raised a hand to silence her. “I came to apologize.”
“That’s a nice start,” Lila conceded. “Go on.”
“I apologize,” he said.
She waited for more. She got nothing. “That it?”
“I’ve had better.”
“Have you had more sincere?”
“Oh, please, you don’t go putting man, sincere and apology in the same sentence. You’d break your Funk & Wagnalls.”
“That does sound painful.”
“What do you really want, Kevin?”
“To apologize,” he reiterated. “I realize my behavior the other day was completely inappropriate. I had no right to pressure you the way that I did. And you had every right to tell me to stay away. A real man would have done as you asked.”
“What brought about this change of heart?” Lila wondered, not sure how she actually felt about his confession, and so saying anything to keep from saying the wrong thing.
“I had a conversation with Amanda – “
“About me?” Lila gulped.
“No. About other things. But, she said something about how, unlike Carl, I’d never lie about something as important as saving my daughter’s life…”
“Ah,” Lila said. “I see.” Even though, frankly, she didn’t see at all.
“I realized then, how unfair I’d been to you. First I used you to keep my secret, then I used you as someone I could talk to without being afraid of accidentally revealing my secret, and now…”
“Now… I’m using you still. And you deserve so much more than that.”
“I didn’t mean I never wished to speak to you again. I just meant… “
“That I shouldn’t drop by unannounced.”
“Or alone,” she felt obliged to add.
“And, for what it’s worth, I really am sincerely sorry.”
“Yeah. Well, that makes two of us.”
“I’m here for Lorna,” Jamie, hands in his pockets, informed Rachel and Carl when they came out to see who’d come to ring their doorbell that evening.
“Is that how you speak to your mother?” Carl snapped, “You ungrateful, uncouth….”
“My mother had three years to speak to me, during which she might have mentioned that my wife was still alive and being held prisoner by you. I’d say my rudeness pales in comparison to hers.”
“Get… out… of… my… house,” Carl seethed.
“It’s my stepfather’s house, technically, and, don’t worry, Carl, I would love to. Please just tell Lorna that I’m here, and we’ll both be out of your hair, ASAP.”
“You and Lorna are… going out?” Rachel ventured.
“On a date,” Jamie confirmed.
“She agreed to that?”
“I don’t take women against their will,” Jamie said, making it clear who, in the room, did.
“Oh, for God’s sake!” Rachel’s attempt at a truce shattered in the face of her son’s smug self-righteousness. “You should be down on your knees, Jamie, thanking Carl for what he did.”
“It’s alright, Rachel,” he husband dismissed magnanimously. “I never expected thanks. Especially not from any of your ungrateful children.”
“Okay,” Jamie refused to get caught up in the psychodrama. “I’ll go get Lorna myself.”
“I’m here,” she announced from the top of the stairs, coming down somewhat hesitantly, looking from Carl to Rachel to Jamie and wondering if her sense of timing was as awful as always.
His mother and stepfather immediately forgotten, the whole world might as well have disappeared for Jamie as he could only stare adoringly at Lorna, taking her hand to help her down the final step.
“Hi,” he said, equal parts awkward and giddy.
“Hello.” Lorna decided to stick to plain awkward.
“And where are the two of you headed tonight?” Carl asked, suddenly avuncular.
“I don’t know,” Lorna said. “I told Jamie to pick. He said he knew everything about me. I dared him to prove it.”
“Very good, my dear, very good.” Carl smiled broadly. To Jamie, he merely appeared to be baring his teeth.
“It did make it kind of hard to dress, though,” Lorna admitted.
Jamie took in the skin-tight, black dress with matching stiletto heels she was wearing and assured, “You look fabulous. You always do.”
“A girl can never go wrong with a little, black dress, right?” She was allegedly speaking to Jamie, but half of Lorna’s body instinctively turned towards Carl, seeking his approval.
“You look lovely,” he gave her his blessing.
“Yes,” Rachel agreed. “You do.”
Jamie offered Lorna his arm. “Shall we?”
She pretended not to notice the gesture and, instead, strove towards the door, flinging it open and leaving Jamie to hurriedly follow.
“Have a pleasant evening,” Carl called in their wake. Pretending equally obliviously not to notice the angry manner in which Jamie slammed the front door behind him.
“I’m sorry about that,” Rachel said. “Jamie has no right to speak to you that way.”
“Merely having you realize as much more than makes up for any inconvenience I may have suffered,” he reassured soothingly. “I am simply sorry that you were forced the face the truth about the depth of your children’s irrational hatred for me. It cannot be easy for you.”
“It doesn’t matter,” Rachel forced a smile onto her face. “Nothing matters as long as I have you and Cory and Elizabeth home again.”
“In that case, dare I risk a suggestion inspired by, of all people, your son?”
“Jamie may be wrong about most things most of the time, but in this one matter, I must admit, I admire his initiative. If he and Lorna are to have a night on the town in order to reacquaint themselves, why shouldn’t you and I do the same?”
“I don’t have amnesia,” Rachel reminded playfully. “I remember absolutely everything about you and I.”
“Well, then, in that case, it is time to make some new memories. What do you say, Rachel? Shall we paint the town red? Would you care to go on a… date, with me?”
“I would love to,” Rachel said.
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