Lorna stood in the doorway of Jamie’s study, listening to him make call after call to anyone he could think of who might help arrange for Rachel to get a donor liver before it was too late.
When it seemed like he’d either hit a dead end, or was temporarily too exhausted to keep going without at least a moment’s break, she silently stepped forward and, standing behind his chair, began to massage Jamie’s shoulders.
He groaned, dropping his chin to his chest and letting Lorna continue kneading the dozens of knots that had formed under his skin. After a few minutes, she wrapped her arms around his neck and, kissing the top of Jamie’s head, asked, “Any luck?”
He swiveled around to face her. “Couple of leads. We’ll see. Despite what Carl thinks, no one can exactly order a compatible organ to appear out of thin air.”
“How is Rachel doing?”
“She’s hanging in there. My mom is tough,” Jamie smiled wistfully, then asked, “How are you and the girls?”
Lorna hesitated, admitting, “They both slept in our bed with me, last night. I don’t think an hour passed without one of them waking up from a nightmare.”
“Damn Carl,” Jamie spat. “If that’s how ours are reacting, can you imagine what’s going on with Milagros and Ike? He had a man shot in front of his kids.”
“You’re convinced it was Carl? No matter what he’s every done to anyone else, the idea of his hurting Rachel…”
“You mean like letting her believe her children were dead for three years?”
“That’s… different. I know how Carl’s mind works, and that’s different. He said he did it for her, and he probably believes it, too. I’m not sure how getting her shot can be spun as being for the good of the family.”
“She got in the way. The guy was obviously gunning for Chase, but then when Mom realized I was there….”
“She saved your life, Jamie.”
“She shouldn’t have had to. Do you think that, before Carl came along, my mother was going around ordering hits on people? Even at her worst – and it was bad, Lorna, you didn’t know her then – she never sank that low.”
“You’ll never be able to prove Carl was behind any of it.” Lorna wasn’t taunting him, she was merely stating a fact.
“So what else is new?”
“Is Chase going to make it?”
Jamie shrugged. “I’ve been so preoccupied with Mom, I haven’t gotten an update since I brought him in. Alice was cautiously optimistic but, head wounds…”
“I know.” Lorna winced in sympathy, remembering.
“I suppose I should check in.”
“What you should do, is go to bed. How many hours straight have you been up now?”
“No time,” Jamie said. “Mom needs me.”
Realizing she’d lost that argument before it even began, Lorna changed the subject to, “Felicia has been calling me practically every twenty minutes. What can I tell her?”
“Tell her that,” Jamie began, when his phone went off and he grabbed to check the text display, a smile slowly, cautiously tugging at his features. “Tell her it looks like we have a donor.”
“Really?” Lorna crossed behind him to take a look for herself.
He nodded, finally allowing himself a sliver of hope. “A liver just became available in Chicago, and we have a blood type match. They’re sending a courier to deliver it now.”
“That’s terrific news.”
“Yup,” Jamie stood up, kissing Lorna quickly and heading for the door. “I’ve got to get back to the hospital. I’ll keep you posted.”
“Good luck!” she called after him.
“I think we finally got some,” Jamie beamed.
“Doug?” In her hurry to get the full story of what was going on with Rachel, Lila was stunned to run into Chase’s partner in the hospital’s corridor. “What is it? What’s wrong? Has something happened to one of the kids?”
He looked at her, dazed, first surprised that she hadn’t heard the news by now, then pained at having to be the one to break it to her. “Chase,” he said, swallowing hard, his voice hoarse. “He – he’s been shot.”
Lila gasped, nearly losing her footing. Last time she wore high-heels to an emergency. “No! Rachel…”
“Both of them. The bullet passed through Rachel and into Chase.”
“How… I don’t understand…”
“Neither do I,” he confessed.
“Is Chase going to be alright?”
“He’s in a coma,” Doug choked out. “The bullet, it’s still in his head.”
“Lord have mercy!”
“The doctors say there’s nothing they can do for him. We just have to stand around and wait for… I don’t even know what we’re waiting for, anymore.”
“I – I’m so sorry.”
Chase nodded, so sick of the platitude that he barely heard it anymore. He chose instead to focus on, “You know how much Chase cared about you, don’t you?”
“I know,” she reassured him.
“Using me?” Lila dismissed. “We got over that years ago.”
“Apparently not.” Doug indicated where they were standing. “Because that’s how all this got started. With Carl. Carl did all this.”
“I’m sorry – what?”
“Carl had Chase shot.”
“Got in the way.”
“I don’t – I can’t believe you.”
“Nobody believed Chase when he said the man was dangerous and needed to be put away. Everybody acted as if he were persecuting a lily-white senior citizen who’d never hurt a fly in his life, just for the fun of it. Actually, that’s not true,” Doug qualified. “Carl believed him. He knew that Chase would eventually find the proof to put him away. At least, he knew Chase would never stop looking for it. So Carl decided to make him stop. And now here we are.”
Donna came into the Emergency Room’s waiting area looking for Matthew. But, much to her displeasure, she found only Carl.
She was about to back out instinctively, when Carl looked up and offered, “I have no intention of biting, Bella.”
“I just – I thought you might want to be alone.”
He indicated the rows of empty chairs. “I have been nothing but, for hours. Apparently even the human decency of offering sympathy to a man whose wife lies fighting for her life is beyond Rachel’s hypocritical family. They have all been avoiding me like the proverbial plague.”
“How is Rachel?” Donna asked, having been, more or less, guilted into taking a seat next to Carl’s.
“Would that I knew. Jamie has made it clear to his minions that no information is to be ferried my way. Rachel could, at this very instant, be breathing her last, and I have been banned from spending these final, precious moments by her side.”
Donna said, “That’s how I felt when Matthew was sick. Nobody would tell me anything, and all I wanted was to be with him.”
Carl turned his head, studying Donna from the side. “At times like these, I wonder how your late father might have handled a similar situation.”
Donna snorted. “You mean besides burning down the hospital and horse-whipping the attending physician?”
“Reginald always had a rather… direct means to attaining his ends.”
“You sound like you envy him.”
“The subtle approach does possess its drawbacks.”
“Matthew says you’re waiting on a liver transplant for Rachel.”
“If I could rip the suitable organ from my own body, you know that I would, and without so much as a moment’s hesitation. Instead, I am forced to depend on Jamie’s facility. The man could not even keep his own allegedly beloved wife safe, how could he possibly be of any help to mine? Especially when he’s made it clear via a dozen different cruel cuts of the knife that her fate is of no concern to him, now and forever more.”
Donna listened to his entire lament. And then she observed, “You’re full of it, Carl.”
Her ex-husband’s head jerked up, startled. She wondered if he’d ever been told so before. Like her father, there were times when Donna preferred the direct approach, as well.
“I daresay,” Carl stammered. “Is now really the proper time for you to be slandering – “
“You know that Jamie loves Rachel and that he’s probably doing absolutely everything he possibly can right now to save her life. Your problem is that he – along with Amanda and Matthew – think you’re the cause of all her problems, including this latest one.”
“It was her precious Jamie that Rachel was attempting to protect when she threw herself in the path of that bloody bullet.”
“And you’ll never be able to forgive him for it,” Donna challenged. “Will you?”
“Never,” Carl agreed, darkly.
“Can I come in?”
The sight of Amanda standing in the doorway to his office, actually meekly asking for permission rather than barking orders or rolling her eyes, surprised Morgan to the point where he instinctively nodded and gestured for her to do just that.
She asked, “Any news about Mom?”
“Not that I’ve heard. But, then again, I’m just the surgeon. You should probably ask the attending – “
“Is she going to make it?” Amanda blurted out.
“I don’t know,” Morgan told her honestly.
She let the information sink in, then, apropos to nothing, said, “We used to be close, my mother and I. When I was a little girl, we used to be close. Even when we started butting heads, like over my Coming Out party – did I ever tell you I had a Coming Out party?”
Morgan shook his head.
“I did. It was Mom’s idea. She sprung it on me the day I came home from boarding school. She’d planned it all herself. I think it was her idea of what a young lady in my position should want. Mom always used to wish she’d been a young lady in my position, so one of us was going to get the party of her dreams, no matter what. I told her the party was more for her than for me. I refused to go, at first. And when I did finally show up, I had blue jeans on under my gown – which Mom also picked out, by the way. That was the night I met Sam.” Amanda blushed. “I don’t know why I just told you all that.”
“Because your mom is sick. And because you’ve spent each moment since you first heard the news, going back over every fight you ever had, wondering where you went wrong. Believe me, I know the drill.”
“It didn’t really get bad until after she married Carl.”
“Right. Hadley Prescott.”
“Okay, not one of my shining moments.”
“You’ve really got a thing for aliases, don’t you? I mean, Hadley, Mandy…”
“Sure beats being Amanda,” she spat out, only realizing what she’d said once she heard the words for herself.
“I’m sorry,” he said honestly.
“Yeah, well, I guess you’ve seen the worst of it. Her. Me…”
“I’ve been there for a couple of your other less than shining moments, true,” he bobbed his head up and down thoughtfully.
“Hey, did you come here for sympathy, or honesty?”
“I don’t know why I came here. Jamie went home, Matt’s got Donna, and I couldn’t stay in the waiting area, watching Carl dramatically beating his chest and cursing the heavens, for another minute.”
“Did you try calling your husband?”
“Kevin’s made it clear we’re through.”
“Whatever happened to his claim that he would forgive you anything?”
“Yeah, well, I always suspected it was a lie. I guess I felt obliged to go out and prove it.”
“Is there anyone you trust enough not to keep constantly testing them?” Morgan wondered.
“You,” she admitted.
Morgan laughed as if she’d made a joke.
But Amanda was sincere. “I’ve always been totally honest with you, and you’ve always been totally – brutally – honestly with me. No games, no agendas…”
“You’re skipping the part where you’re currently blackmailing me to stay away from Lila.”
“But, I’m doing it honestly,” she pointed out. “You’re lying to her, not to me.”
He couldn’t help but laugh a second time, only now it was tinged with bitterness. “You have a most intriguing moral compass, Ms. Cory. Or is that Prescott? Ashton?”
“I’ll be anyone you want me to be,” Amanda offered, sidling up to Morgan, her face just inches from his.
She raised a finger to trace the outline of his lips.
Which was when the door burst open.
Lila stood on the other side.
She looked from one to the other, the flash of disgust on her face quickly replaced by urgency. She told Morgan, “They’ve been trying to reach you. You weren’t answering your phone, so I volunteered to run up. Scrub in,” she ordered him. “They’ve got a liver for Rachel.”
“Good morning, darling,” Iris kissed Dennis on the cheek as she let him into her and Russ’ home. “Hello, Marley,” she added as an afterthought.
“Good morning,” Marley beamed back, all but radiating contentment.
“Any news on Rachel?” Dennis asked his stepfather who, unlike Marley, appeared to have a dark cloud thundering right above his head.
“Not yet,” Russ said.
“Give my best to Jamie when you see him.”
“And mine,” Marley said. “Tell him we’re all praying for her.”
“Aren’t we, Mom?” Dennis couldn’t help pushing Iris’ buttons to see what would happen.
“Oh, absolutely. I’ve thought of nothing else all day.”
“We realize how concerned you must be,” Marley’s sincerity matched Iris’ own – which was to say, not in the slightest. “We don’t want to intrude. But Dennis and I have some news.”
“News?” Iris snapped like a terrier at the word, her eyes instantly going to Marley’s left hand, searching for the grisly sight of a wedding ring.
“Yes. Tell her, Dennis.”
“Tell me what?”
“I’ve changed my will, Mom.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Marley is now my sole beneficiary.”
“Marley is what?”
“I figured Sarah has plenty of money, from Mac and Russ and now Grant. She doesn’t need it, and neither does Daisy.”
“Yet Marley does? Are you out of your mind?”
“Actually, Mom, it was your peace of mind that I was thinking of. I did it for you.”
“You did what for me?” Iris glanced desperately about, entreating for someone, anyone, to explain what in the world was happening. “I don’t understand.”
“You and Olivia were so, so concerned that Marley was out to kill me, I decided what better way to put your mind at ease than to make Marley my beneficiary?”
“Are you following this, Russ?” Iris turned to her husband. “Because I am most certainly not following any of this.”
Dennis prompted, “In the event of foul play, who is the first person usually suspected?”
“The spouse,” Iris spat, once again returning to her ring hunt.
“True. Or the beneficiary. By making Marley my sole heir, I’ve made it so she will be the automatic prime suspect should anything happen to me. So now you can rest assured, Mom, that nothing will.” He smiled, so proud of himself for his presumed cleverness, that Iris knew this clap-trap could only have been Marley’s idea.
“We rushed over here to tell you the moment the ink was dry,” Marley explained. “We didn’t want you fretting for one minute longer than necessary.”
“Oh, do shut up, would you?” Iris snapped, no longer in the mood for even faked pleasantries.
If Russ hadn’t been so preoccupied, he might have appeared even more amused than he currently did. As it was, he merely offered, “Oh, let your mother be, Dennis.”
“Is that all you have to say?” Iris demanded.
“Yes,” he said, then checked his buzzing cell- phone, smiling when he read the message. “I need to get to the hospital,” Russ told Iris, raising a single hand to wave good-by to all three of them as he rushed for the door.
Iris watched him go, her frustration with Dennis and Marley temporarily on hold as she could only seethe, “Rachel….”
Jamie raced into the waiting room to find Carl, Amanda, Matt, Donna and Lila already assembled there.
“You’ve heard the news?” he double-checked, despite having texted them all on his way in. He knew that cell-phone reception was spotty inside the hospital and, besides, there were still several hours to wait. “About the liver becoming available?”
“Mom’s already in surgery,” Amanda said. “Morgan went in about ten minutes ago.”
Jamie frowned. “The liver couldn’t have gotten here from Chicago that quickly.”
“There’s no liver from Chicago,” Matt said. “Mom’s donor is right here, in the hospital.”
“It all happened so fast,” Lila interjected. “Literally, one minute we were all praying for a miracle, and then the next minute – “
“Chase Hamilton flat-lined less than an hour ago,” Carl reported dispassionately. “He could not be revived, despite heroic efforts. It is his bequest that Rachel is now receiving.”
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