“Daddy!” Daisy was the first to get over the shock of seeing Grant, alive, seemingly well, and standing in front of the motel room he’d been hiding out in for months. Possibly because she’d never bought that whole “Daddy is gone forever” story Mommy had tried to feed her earlier.
“Daisy! You’re – you’re home!” Grant explained, looking to Lila for answers, seeing as how last he’d heard, his daughter was missing.
Lila, who’d been too busy focusing on her own child to think about Grant’s, startled to realize she hadn’t noticed Daisy’s return.
But that, obviously, wasn’t the main drama of the day.
Tearing his eyes away from Daisy, Grant looked at Sarah and Kirkland. His wife and his son stared back, dumbstruck, too shocked to speak.
Grant opened his mouth, wanting to explain, needing to explain, desperate to explain.
But Sarah would have none of it.
She shook her head and held up a warning hand.
“Don’t,” Sarah ordered Grant. “Just… don’t.”
She turned around, plopped Daisy on her hip, and took off down the ramp leading back to the motel’s parking lot.
Grant attempted to follow her, but Kirkland blocked his way.
“You did it again! You son of a bitch!”
“No, son,” Grant began.
But Kirkland wasn’t having any of it. He raised his fist and clocked Grant straight across the jaw. His father staggered and fell backwards with a groan.
While Kirkland took off after Sarah.
Allie and GQ managed to make it back to his faculty apartment on campus before neither one
could wait any longer, and they fell on each other, making love as if the past years – and the hurt that came with them – had never happened.
It was only afterwards, when Allie was putting her clothes back on and avoiding looking at GQ – or at any of the photos of Hudson he had up – that he pulled himself together enough to ask, “Zeno…”
“No.” She flicked her head aggressively. “Don’t.”
“I am.” Allie confirmed. “And I want to stay that way.”
“I was angry. I was drinking.”
“You still love me.”
“No,” Allie turned around calmly. “I don’t.”
“Come on.” GQ gestured in the vague direction of the bed they’d both previously occupied. “Why would you….”
“Because,” Allie informed him coldly, cruelly, deliberately. “This time around, I wanted you to feel what it’s like to be the one walked out on.”
Which was precisely what she did.
“I stopped by C-Squared,” Jamie told Matt, surprised to find his brother at home in the middle of a workday. “You weren’t there.”
“Mom went to see Carl today for the first time since he’s been moved to prison. I thought I’d hang around. In case she needed support when she got back.”
“Couldn’t that have waited?”
“You’re not at work,” his brother noted accusingly.
“I’m on the night shift,” Jamie explained.
“What are you doing here, anyway? I thought you swore never to darken Mom’s door again.”
“That’s not exactly how it went down,” Jamie corrected lightly. “And besides, I didn’t come to see Mom. I came to see you.”
“So you can get on my case about not being a productive member of society?”
“So I can tell you that your wife is worried about you.”
“You’ve talked to Donna?”
“She came to the house.”
“Lorna must have loved that.”
“Lorna has matured – somewhat – over the past few years.”
“No more pyrotechnics?”
“Only in bed.”
Matt burst out laughing. “No need to rub it in, man. Your wife is hot, I get it.”
“Just stating a fact.”
“Hot and completely reformed, too. All thanks to your steady moral influence, no doubt.”
“I’m in no position to be influencing anyone. Which is precisely what I told Donna. But she insisted.”
“Insisted on what?”
“In me talking to you. About Mom.”
“Donna is just jealous,” Matt dismissed.
“She is,” Jamie agreed completely. “But that doesn’t make her wrong.”
“It’s not a contest. It’s not Mom versus Donna. I love them both. I can be there for them both.”
“Mom doesn’t like coming in second, Matt.”
“And she won’t. Not with me.”
Jamie sighed. “You don’t know what you’re letting yourself in for. The reason I finally had to walk away from Mom was because she expected me to simply overlook her on-going defense of the man who kidnapped my wife. She said that, if I loved her, I would do it, no questions asked.”
“Lorna and Carl’s history….”
“Is no more complicated than Carl and Donna’s. What are you going to do when Mom’s husband goes after your wife, this time?”
“Is that what Donna expects to happen?”
“It’s what she’s afraid will happen.”
“Well, I – it – I won’t allow it.”
“You think I allowed Carl to take Lorna?”
“He’s in jail now. He isn’t a threat anymore.”
“Since when has a jail cell ever been able to keep Carl from going about his business?”
“You’re just jealous,” Matt burst out, unable to come up with a valid answer to Jamie’s question, and so turning the cross-examination back around on him. “You’re just jealous that, for the first time ever, Mom prefers me over you!”
“Yes,” Jamie said tiredly. “That’s – you’re exactly right. I am absolutely burning up with envy over no longer being the one Mom expects to fulfill all her emotional needs at the drop of a hat.”
“Oh, shut up. You’re exaggerating. Mom was never that bad, and you know it.”
“I do know it,” Jamie agreed. “I know it a lot better than you do. As long as everything is fine, Mom is fine. But as soon as things stop going her way, she demands that the wagons be circled around her until she decides she’s ready to face the world again. She doesn’t care what it costs you, as long as she’d taken care of.”
“Go back to Donna,” Matt ordered. “Tell her you’ve done your duty, you’ve tried to scare me straight. No, better yet, I’ll tell her myself. I’ll tell her it didn’t work. You and her are not going to turn me against Mom. Especially not now, not when she finally needs me. A hell of a lot more than she ever needed you.”
When Grant hit the ground, reeling from his son’s blow, it was Jasmine who lunged for him, ignoring the departing Kirkland and Sarah, while Lila pivoted her head from side to side, unsure if she should be following them or staying with Grant.
Taking responsibility for her actions, Lila finally settled on the latter, grabbing Grant’s arm while Jasmine tugged on the other, and helping him back up.
“What the hell, Lila?” Were the first words out of Grant’s mouth, even as he rubbed his bruised jaw, gingerly moving it from side to side, checking if anything were broken.
“What is going on, Mama?” Jasmine echoed. “Why did you – How did you – You knew Grant was alive all this time?”
“Don’t blame your mother for that,” Grant placed excessive emphasis on the last word. “I talked her into it. But it was supposed to be a secret.”
“Why would you do something like that? Leave Sarah and Daisy and Kirkland?”
“They’re better off without me,” Grant mumbled.
The look Jasmine gave him summarized everything Lila – and anyone with a functioning brain – could think of in response.
“Why did you bring them here?” Grant demanded.
“I warned your son,” Lila said primly. “About treating my little girl right.”
“I told you, Mama,” Jasmine interrupted. “Kirkland didn’t break up with me. I broke up with him.”
“What does that have to do with Sarah?” Grant wondered, while adding as an aside, “If Kirkland didn’t appreciate what he had in you, Jazz, then you’re right, he doesn’t deserve you.” “It doesn’t,” Jasmine said firmly, shooting a fiery look Lila’s way to drive her point home. “Sarah doesn’t have anything to do with me and Kirkland.”
Lila got the message. And understood Jasmine’s point. Grant was in enough of a state as it was. Telling him about Kirkland and Sarah would be… ill-advised at this time.
“I was angry,” Lila said instead. “Kirkland made Jasmine cry and I – I couldn’t really see beyond that. He’d hurt her, so I wanted to hurt him. And this was the first thing I thought of.”
“Acting without thinking?” Grant shook his head ruefully. “No wonder you and I get along so well.”
“Kirkland was just getting over you leaving him the first time,” Jasmine said, not quite as easy to appease with charm as her mother. “How could you do it to him again?”
“Leave Grant alone,” Lila snapped. “He’s got bigger fish to fry.”
“Why did you go along with him, Mama?”
“Because,” Lila’s anger at the initial situation morphed into a broader dislike for her daughter’s tone. “My friend asked me to.”
“You saw how much Sarah and Kirkland were hurting.”
“That was my fault, not your mother’s,” Grant said.
“When Daisy was missing, all Sarah kept talking about was how much she wished Grant were there with her.”
“She… did?” Grant asked in disbelief.
“She needed you,” Jasmine said. “You should have seen her. She was at the end of her rope. Kirk and I would go over there every day just to make sure she’d eaten something, gotten some sleep. We were afraid she’d have a total breakdown. But she didn’t want us. All she wanted was you.”
“I’ll make her… I’ll try to make her understand.”
“Yeah,” Jasmine snorted, a completely out of character sound, yet one that encompassed perfectly how fed up she felt with Grant and Lila. “Good luck with that. Both of you.”
Stretched out by the pool next to Elizabeth, eyes closed to keep out the sun, Charlie didn’t notice Cory towering over the two of them until he was blocking her light.
She raised her hand to her face, squinting, remembering at the same time that she and Elizabeth had been sunbathing topless. Her first impulse was to sit up with a start and re-tie the strings of her bikini. Her second, once she’d registered who was standing there, was to leave it down.
Elizabeth, on the other hand, turned around with a shriek, covering herself up with one hand while attempting to pull up her own bathing suit with the other. “Cory! Come on!”
“Sorry,” he told them both sincerely. “I didn’t mean to interrupt.”
“When did you get out? Of jail, I mean.” Charlie wondered.
“Soon as my dad went in. It was part of the deal he’d made.”
“Father sacrificed himself for Cory,” Elizabeth beamed, her faith in her favorite parent at long last restored. No matter what anyone else said.
“What was it like?” Charlie moved over so that Cory could sit next to her. Top still down. He pretended not to notice. And she pretended she believed him.
“You should have never been put there in the first place.” Elizabeth noticed that Charlie hadn’t covered up. But she wasn’t exactly sure how to mention it without drawing even more attention to her girlfriend sitting half-naked in front of her brother. “It was a family matter. Why did the police have to get involved?”
“Were you scared?” Charlie asked Cory.
“Of course, he wasn’t,” Elizabeth said.
“Yeah,” he contradicted gently. “I was.”
“Then why did you insist on staying there, then? You could have gotten out earlier. You could have – “
“It was the principle of the thing,” Charlie spoke for Cory. “Same reason my mom made my dad confess to Cecile’s murder. He could have kept his mouth shut and stayed out of jail, let Lucas or Jamie take the fall. But, it was the principle of the thing. It was the – it was the noble thing to do.”
“It was the stupid thing to do,” Elizabeth corrected.
“She’s right,” Cory shrugged. “It was stupid. Shooting my dad was pretty stupid, too.”
“Thank you for finally admitting it!”
“Stupid,” Cory said. “But not wrong. They’re not the same thing.”
“No,” Charlie found she couldn’t keep her eyes off of Elizabeth’s brother. Or thinking about the kiss he gave her before any of this had happened. “They’re not.”
“I came to tell you I’ve decided to accept the District Attorney position,” Cass stopped by to fill in Eduardo.
“Wonderful! Excellent! I am very glad!” He reached over to shake Cass’ hand.
Cass waited a bit, then asked, “Is that it?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, you were the one who recommended me for the position.”
“I think you will be a very good District Attorney.”
“Isn’t there something you… want?”
“I do not understand.”
“Political appointments usually come with… one hand washing the other, if you know what I mean.”
“Ah. Yes. You are asking whether there are any instructions I have for you in your new position.”
“What do I owe you?” Cass translated bluntly.
“Not a thing.”
“I don’t believe that. You put Chase into office specifically so he could pursue your vendetta against Carl.”
“And you see where that ended,” Eduardo said softly.
“What do you expect from me?”
“Nothing,” Eduardo repeated. But then, as if the thought had just occurred to him, added, “On the other hand, if you insist, there is this one, small favor….”
“Carl asked if I wanted Amanda destroyed,” Rachel confessed to Russ, having avoided going home to make a detour to the Matthews house. “He said if I wanted it, he’d do it; take away the Cory Publishing stock she’d stolen from us, and make certain she never had a chance to pull anything like that again.”
“What did you say?” Russ wondered evenly.
“I said, no, of course. Of course, I said no. She’s my daughter. How could you possibly think….Even though there is no denying Amanda deserves it. What she did – she had no right. Mac must be spinning in his grave.”
“Yes,” Russ agreed. Though not necessarily about that.
“I told Carl absolutely not.” She looked to Russ expectantly.
He sighed, rubbing the bridge of his nose with his fingers. “I realize, Rachel, that it is entirely my fault I’ve given you reason to believe my main function in life is to pat you on the head approvingly whenever you stop your husband from doing something truly monstrous against one of your children, but, really, this has got to stop. Do you really think you deserve praise for keeping Carl from – in your words – destroying your oldest daughter?
Rachel’s mouth popped open, then closed again, shocked puffs filling the space where words should have gone.
“How – How dare you? How dare you speak to me in – “
“The manner you deserve?” Russ asked tiredly.
“I just told you, I refused to let Carl do anything to Amanda?”
“The fact that he asked, means he must have assumed it was what you wanted?”
“I’ve always been Carl’s first priority,” Rachel bristled. “Which is more than can be said for any of my children. Thankfully, Matt has – “
“You really think you should be your children’s first priority?” Russ asked Rachel in disbelief.
“I am their mother. I have sacrificed absolutely everything for them?”
“To what end?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Why did you make all these sacrifices for your children?”
“Because I love them!”
“And do you believe Jamie loves his children?”
“Of course, he does.”
“Then why would you expect him to forgive the man who stole their mother from them, simply to make you happy?”
“Because he owes me,” Rachel seethed. “After everything I have forgiven him for, the least Jamie and the rest of them owe me is respect.” Her voice softened. “Why are you doing this, Russ? Why are you suddenly treating me like this? I thought we were friends.”
“My friend Rachel,” Russ said. “Would never dream of letting somebody go after one of her children.”
“I told him no!” Rachel wondered how many times she would be forced to reiterate.
“But did you consider it?” Russ asked. “Even for a moment, a split second?”
Rachel’s expression told him everything he needed to know. They stood for a long beat, just studying each other grimly. And then….
“Help me, Russ,” Rachel whispered. “Jamie and Cory and everyone, they kept talking about how much I’d changed. But I didn’t believe it. I couldn’t see it.”
“Do you see it now?”
She hesitated. And then, ever so slightly, Rachel nodded her head.
“What am I supposed to do?” She pleaded. “I love Carl. I can’t stop loving him just because….”
“He deserves it?”
“I love him,” Rachel repeated. She took a step forward, taking both of Russ’ hands in hers.
Which was when Iris stepped into the room.
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