As expected, it was Grant at the door. Kirkland let him in and stood aside as his father made a beeline for Sarah.
Grant smiled weakly. Sarah didn’t smile back.
“It’s so good to see you,” he said softly.
“I wish I could say the same.”
“Jasmine… Jasmine said that when Daisy was missing, all you could talk about was how much you needed me, how much you wished I was here with you.”
“Needed,” Sarah said. “Wished. Past tense.”
“You could have been here,” Kirkland interjected. “You could have been here for Sarah, instead of hiding out like the coward you’ve always been.”
“I did it for you,” he told Sarah.
“Save it. I fell for that bit once. Fool me twice – shame on me.”
“I was wrong,” Grant pleaded.
“My plan was to get out of town. To disappear from your life and never bother you again. To set you free. But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t stay away from you. I spent months holed up in that disgusting hotel room, telling myself that tomorrow – tomorrow would be the day I’d finally leave Bay City behind. I couldn’t do it. Just being in the same town with you, it was a comfort. Imagining we might be breathing the same air – “
“Spare me,” Sarah spat.
“I tried. I really did. But I love you too much, Sarah. I thought you’d be better off without me. Frankly, I still think it. But I realize now I don’t have the strength to stay away from you.”
“That’s too bad,” Sarah said. “Because, finally, I’ve found the strength to stay away from you.”
“You don’t mean it,” he cajoled.
“I do.” Sarah put every last ounce of bravado that she could summon into her voice. “You were right all along. We are a bad fit. I have my whole life ahead of me. You… don’t.”
“Which is precisely why I don’t want to waste anymore time!”
“You’re out of time, Grant. I – I’ve moved on.”
He startled, blinking. “I don’t understand.”
“Someone else. I’ve moved on with someone else.”
“I – No – I don’t believe that. Who?” Grant challenged.
Sarah took a split second to decide. She reached out her hand and grabbed Kirkland’s, pulling him closer to her, staring at Grant defiantly.
“So I had a visit from Donna earlier,” Lorna filled in Jamie as they finally sat down to a quiet dinner after having put the girls to bed.
“She’s certainly making the rounds, isn’t she?”
“She suggested us teaming up to reunite you and Rachel.”
Jamie coughed in astonishment, bringing a napkin up to his lips and holding it there until he could speak freely again. “There is so, so much wrong with that sentence.”
“I explained as much to Donna.”
“How’d she take it?”
“You know, like Donna – in one ear and out the other.”
“Wonder who she’ll approach next.”
Lorna didn’t care. All she wanted to know was, “Did I do the right thing?”
“Do you really have to ask?”
“Teaming up with Donna for any reason guarantees a disaster,” Lorna agreed. “But that doesn’t mean she was completely wrong. She said that Rachel misses you. Do you miss your mother, Jamie?”
Her husband hesitated, leaning back in his chair and taking a deep breath. “In a manner of speaking.”
“You two were so close….”
“Sometimes,” he agreed. “But, see… Do you remember how, in Gone With the Wind, Rhett tells Scarlett he can’t keep catching her between husbands? It was kind of like that with Mom and me. When she didn’t have a man in her life – which, as you know, wasn’t very often – she was all about being a great mother, looking out for me, telling me how to live my life, bribing women to stay out of it; business as usual. But, as soon as she had a man to obsess over, back I went into a box at the back of the closet, only to be taken out again when she needed me. I look at this as just another of those times. Right now, she’s all about Carl. Cool. I know the drill.”
“That’s not how I heard it. Whenever Felicia and I were on the outs – which, as you know, is very, very often,” she playfully echoed him. “She’d constantly be throwing you and Rachel in my face as the epitome of a perfect mother/child relationship.”
“Mom has her version of events, I have mine. I suspect Felicia only heard her side of things.”
“So… you don’t want to fix things between you and her? You don’t want Devon and Zee to know their grandmother?”
“Do I want them to know that their grandmother approved of her husband kidnapping their mother? Not particularly, no.”
“But if things were different,” Lorna prompted. “If Carl were… out of the picture…”
“Can you arrange that?”
Jamie was joking.
Lorna was not.
“Zeno.” Frankie embraced the boy whom she would always consider her son – whether or not he agreed with her. “I’m so happy you called, honey. What can I do for you?”
“I wanted your advice,” he mumbled, not meeting Frankie’s eyes. Which wasn’t at all like him.
“Of course,” she sat down at the kitchen table, hoping the familiar sight of her in the same space
where the two of them so often sat with his mother might prove reassuring. “What is it?”
“It’s… Allie. She – she slept with GQ.”
“Oh.” Frankie jerked in her seat, taken aback. “How – how do you know this?”
“She told me.”
“She… did? Why?”
“Because she said she didn’t want to keep any secrets from me. She said she loves me and she wants this marriage to work.”
“So why then…”
“Last time they slept together, GQ dumped her. She wanted to do the same thing to him this time around.”
“Weird, right?” Zeno seemed desperate for Frankie’s agreement. “It’s totally ridiculous. The way Allie said it, she made it sound like it was the most logical thing in the world, and I was the lunatic because I didn’t see it.”
“It is a little unconventional,” Frankie conceded. Though she was someone who didn’t think unconventional was necessarily a bad thing.
“Cass cheated on you, right?” Zeno blurted out.
“But you stuck with him, anyway.”
“It was a little more complicated than that…”
“You’re still together,” he pointed out.
“It hasn’t been an easy road.”
“But you decided it was worth it.”
“Is that what you’re wondering about Allie? Whether she’s worth it?”
“I don’t know what I’m wondering,” he admitted. “I just – I guess I wanted to hear from someone who’d been there.”
“Did Allie really say the only reason she slept with GQ was to get back at him for dumping her years earlier?”
“Well, she said she just ran into him on the BCU campus and she’d been drinking… so her judgment wasn’t exactly in peak condition.”
“Allie was drinking when she slept with GQ?” Frankie asked. “And this happened at BCU?”
“Yeah,” Zeno dismissed. “So what?”
“Honey,” Frankie squeezed the boy’s hand excitedly. “I think I know how to fix this!”
“Am I disturbing you?” Amanda asked as she popped her head into Morgan’s office.
He looked up. “There’s a loaded question.”
“Well, I just came by to tell you that I’m done.”
“Meaning what?” He beckoned her inside and gestured for her to close the door.
“That thing… what I said about Lila…”
“You mean the thing where you threatened to have her thrown in jail for aiding and abetting after the fact if I didn’t stay away from her? That thing?”
“Yes.” Amanda said through clenched teeth. Then added, “Forget it.”
“Say what now?”
“Forget it,” she repeated more fervently. “I – I’m not going to do anything to her. Or to you.”
“And what brought about this magnanimous change of heart?”
“I got tired of being a bitch?” She offered half-heartedly.
“I can see how that would be exhausting.”
“It wasn’t making me happy. The whole point of being a bitch is to be happy and stop caring
what other people think and stop letting them walk all over you and use you and then toss you aside when they get bored.”
“I can’t imagine anyone getting bored with you, Amanda.”
“That only proves the limits of your imagination.”
“Now that’s more like it!” He walked around his desk to throw a companionable arm over her shoulder and give it a squeeze. “You gave me a scare there for a minute. There’s the Amanda Cory we all know and – “
“Run away from.”
He clicked his tongue against his teeth. “Self-pity doesn’t become you.”
“Want to offer a hint as to what does? Because, honestly, I’m out of ideas.”
“Well, when all else fails, there’s always being yourself.”
“Myself just finished blackmailing you over something you weren’t even involved in.”
“I don’t mean the Angry at the World Amanda. I mean the one that’s standing in front of me right now. Honest, open, vulnerable…”
“You know where honest, open and vulnerable got me?”
“Here,” Morgan turned her to face him. “With me.”
“I was actually going for a half-dozen divorces and a daughter who doesn’t want anything to do with me.”
“I’m not your daughter,” Morgan said. “I’m not Sam or Grant or Cameron or Kevin. I look at you, and I like what I see.”
“Sometimes,” Amanda prompted, refusing to hear what he was saying.
“Right now,” Morgan corrected. Just before he leaned in and kissed her.
She pulled away. “You don’t have to be nice to me.”
“I know,” he said calmly.
And stayed right as he was.
“Cass Winthrop appears to be under the impression that I’d like you investigated,” Alice informed Eduardo over the phone.
“Did he tell you why I asked this of him?”
“He did.” Alice wondered, “Are you familiar with who my late husband was?”
“Spencer Harrison, yes.”
“And the sort of business he was in?”
“Yes. Which is why I thought you would, perhaps, enjoy a… change of pace?”
He presented the notion so charmingly, Alice couldn’t help but laugh. “I make my decisions about whom I do and do not wish to be friends with based on a lot more than their profession.”
“I have no doubt of this. Nevertheless, considering the awkward foot we started out on, I thought it might be best to present myself in the optimal light.”
“Then you should have done it yourself. Not though an intermediary. I not only make my decisions based on a variety of factors, I also make them for myself.”
“An admirable trait. And, in that case, may I plead my case – in person – over dinner some evening?”
“There is nothing to plead for,” Alice said. “And… yes.”
As shocked as Kirkland was by Sarah’s taking his hand, Grant all but staggered backwards from the implication.
“You… You and…”
“Kirk,” Sarah pronounced with satisfaction.
Grant shook his head. “You… He… You wouldn’t.”
“Ask your good buddy Lila,” Sarah was enjoying this more and more. She’d never dreamed things could fall into place so perfectly. “It’s why Kirkland and Jasmine broke up. It’s why Lila
went on the war-path.”
“Is she telling the truth?” Grant demanded of Kirkland.
His son looked at Sarah, who was biting her lip pleadingly. He squared his shoulders and replied, “It’s true.” Then, because Kirkland was just as angry as Sarah, only he hadn’t been given the same opportunity to strike back, added, “I guess we finally know who the better man is, don’t we, Grant?”
His father charged, attempting to snatch Kirkland by the lapels and shove him backwards, but the younger man easily warded off the blow, grabbing Grant by the wrists and pushing him away dismissively.
“Don’t try it,” he warned. “I’m not the little kid you abandoned the first time.”
“That’s what this about?” Grant roared. “You’re trying to get back at me?”
“Get over yourself,” Sarah advised. “We thought you were dead. There wasn’t anybody to get back at.”
Grant raised both hands, fingers tautly splayed, trying to get his point across before his head blew off, when the doorbell rang for the second time.
“My, I’m popular today,” Sarah observed, opening the door to Marley.
“Is it true?” Kirkland’s aunt demanded. “Is Daisy back home? Is Dennis with her?”
“Feeling nostalgic for your old stomping grounds?” Carl inquired of Iris as she took the seat across the glass partition from him and picked up the phone, daintily wiping it down with an anti-septic cloth first and, even then, keeping her mouth a good distance from the receiver and balancing it along her nails rather than her fingertips.
Her lips tightened into a line that might have been intended to pass for a smile. “No worries there. Rachel’s family continues to be amply represented… for many more years to come, I understand.”
“I had no choice,” Carl indicated his surroundings. “But to insure Cory’s freedom.”
“Yes, yes, yes, how very noble. And how very uninteresting. I’m not here to talk to you about your son, I’m here to talk to you about your wife.”
“I cannot imagine Rachel sharing anything of importance with you that might be of interest to me.”
“The only thing Rachel is interested in sharing with me is my husband,” Iris snapped. “Though I suspect share and share alike is not what she has in mind.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. Your Dr. Matthews’ limited appeal begins and ends with his dull, plodding, professional shoulder to cry on.”
“That’s not exactly the body part I was concerned about.” Iris said, “I came home to find her in his arms.”
Carl shrugged, indifferent. “I refer you, once again, to the aforementioned shoulder.”
“And I suggest you pull your head out of the…” Iris smiled sweetly. “Clouds. Especially since your wife had her head on his chest and her arms around his neck. Or have you forgotten what Rachel was up to while you were… absent?”
“Entirely different circumstances, then and now.”
“You think Rachel won’t cheat on her strong, handsome hero?”
“Rachel knows why I’m here. I saved our son!”
“A life-sentence is an awfully long time. And you know how… edgy… Rachel gets without a man around.”
“I may end up serving a life sentence,” Carl predicted darkly. “But it won’t be my own.”
“Agreed,” Iris said.
“I beg your pardon?”
“Why do you think I’m here, Carl? To shoot the breeze about your precious Rachel’s fidelity? I am here to discuss how we’re going to get you out of this place, and back to your Rachel. So that you both might leave the rest of us alone.”
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