IT'S EARLY EVENING AT JOE'S CAFE

Stephanie LakeJoe's Cafe"It's so good to get out, just the two of us."  Stephanie slowly sat down at the table.  She carefully looked through the dessert list, noticing both German Chocolate Cake and New York Cheesecake on the menu.  They were her two favorites and she knew that she'd have a difficult time deciding.

"Well, since Sara had to run off to meet Dane, I figured this would give us a chance to spend some mother/daughter time together."  Annabelle glanced over and saw Stephanie's potential choices and gave a disappointed look.  "Stephanie, dear, how about some angel food cake with fresh fruit?  A lady can't eat whatever she feels like and maintain a figure that's appealing to men."  Stephanie clinched her teeth and slid the menu across the table.  She knew that this so-called "mother/daughter time" would certainly result in a lecture on landing just the right husband.

"Yes, Mother."

Annabelle flagged down a waiter.  "Yes, we'll have two pieces of angel food cake with fresh strawberries."  She waved him away just as she saw Douglas walking in the door.  "Douglas!  What in the world are you doing here?"

"Hello, Annabelle," he said as he walked over to the table.

Annabelle Lake"Douglas, I'm sure you remember my daughter, Stephanie."

"W-why yes."  He extended his hand to her and she smiled warmly in response.  "Stephanie, you grow more and more beautiful every day."

"Oh, Mr. Davis," she giggled as she ran her fingers through her hair.  "You are always so uplifting to a girl's self-image."

"I think we can skip the formalities.  Just call me Douglas."  He wasn't just being nice.  Douglas always thought that Stephanie was one of the most beautiful young women in Albanyville.  There was something about her spirit and energy that he'd always found appealing.

"And I might say you're looking as handsome as ever."  Stephanie smiled coyly at him and she instinctively corrected her posture.  Always put your best assets forward as Annabelle would say.

"Stephanie, I hope it wouldn't be to forward..." He paused for a moment to look in Annabelle's direction.  "Well...I hope it wouldn't be to forward to ask if maybe you'd do me the honor of accompanying me to a movie sometime?"

"I'm so flattered."  Stephanie's hand flew up to her chest in surprise.  "With so much going on this time of year, I can't make any promises right now, but we'll see."  Annabelle struggled to conceal a slight grin.  Stephanie had become quite a master at being coquettish.

Douglas Davis"Then that's all I can ask for.  Well, I really have to get going.  I only stopped in for a quick snack.  Grace is out with some friends this evening and I worked over at the office, so I'm having a late dinner."

"It was so good to see you, Douglas,"  Annabelle said as she held out her hand to him.  After he had left, Annabelle turned to her daughter with a slight grin on her face.  "Now, Stephanie, darling, you have just proven exactly what kind of masterful flirt that you are."

"Momma, I don't have the slightest idea what you're talking about.  Douglas is a very nice man and I was just  being polite."

"Well, why can't you be that polite to Reginald?"  Annabelle put both her hands on the table and leaned across to her daughter.  "What do I have to do to convince you that you deserve a man like him and what he can do for you a lot more than that Jillian Stokes girl?"  Stephanie lowered her head and caught a glimpse of her reflection in the table's brass center piece.  She could be every bit as glamorous as Jillian and she was way more determined to get what she wanted.

"I told you I'd do it!"  Stephanie suddenly snapped before regaining her composure.  She paused and inhaled deeply.  "Set up the meeting.  Landing Reginald Callison has just moved to the top of my to-do list."


MEANWHILE, AT THE WISHING WELL

The Wishing Well Soda ShoppeGrace DavisGrace couldn't help but laugh after Dane finished telling a joke.  She looked deeply into his eyes as he reached across the table and took her hand in his.  "I'm really glad that we got this chance to meet."  When he smiled at her, she thought her heart might melt.  "Well, actually, meet again."

"Me, too," she said in a slightly breathy tone.  She searched for all the right words to say, but came up empty.  She'd dreamed for months about what she would say to Dane if she'd ever gotten the chance, but now the time had come and she was utterly speechless.  His dark, wavy hair and piercing blues eyes had nearly turned her brain to mush.  He slowly leaned across the table and inched closer to her.  Oh, my, is he going to kiss me? she thought as she leaned toward him.

"Dane!"  The voice broke the moment and they quickly pulled away from one another.  Dane looked in the direction of the voice and swallowed hard.  Breathing slowly, he regained his composure.

"Sara, what are you doing here?" he asked as he rose to his feet.  He threw his arms around her and hugged her tightly.  "I wasn't expecting to see you tonight."

"I see that."  she said matter-of-factly as she carefully analyzed Grace and the situation she'd just interrupted.  "You look awfully familiar."  Sara rested her chin on her hand as she thought.  "I know!  You go to Albanyville High, don't you?"

"Y-yes, yes I do."  Grace stammered.

"Well, you must know my cousin Stephanie...Stephanie Lake?"

"Stephanie Lake is your cousin?"  Grace began to grow increasingly nervous as she tried to remember where she'd seen Sara before.

Sara Summers"Yep.  I'm a graduate of Albanyville High, myself."  Sara grabbed onto Dane's arm and pulled him closer to her side.  "I'm Sara Summers.  I hope my boyfriend Dane hasn't been boring you too much with his silly stories.  Sometimes he just doesn't know when to quit.  I keep telling him that no one cares how many times he scored the winning touchdown in that football game.  That was high school...child's play.  We're adults now."

"B-boyfriend?"  The word caught in Grace's throat.  She'd had no idea that Dane had a girlfriend.  She didn't know why she was surprised.  A man as handsome as Dane Manchester had to have a girlfriend.  Why hadn't that thought entered her head?  She suddenly felt deeply embarrassed and humiliated.  "I-I'm sorry, but it's getting late and I have to get home.  It's been nice meeting you both.  H-have a good night."  Grace got up quickly and rushed from the room.

Dane Manchester"So, Dane," Sara said as she turned to focus all her attention on him, "what have you been up to tonight with Goldilocks?"

"Um, nothing, really, Sara."  Dane relaxed his posture and put his arm around her.  "We were just talking."

"Dane, I'm not a fool.  I know better."  She turned away from him and stared off into space.  "Why can't I be enough for you?  I love you so much!"

"You know how I am.  I've never kept that a secret from you.  I am not ready for a serious commitment and I am definitely not ready for marriage.  I told you that before we ever started dating and you said you understood and accepted that."  He reached out for her and touched her gently on her shoulder. Slowly, she turned back around to face him.  "I can't guarantee that I'll ever be ready for that, but I can promise you that if the time comes, you'll be the very first to know."

"Oh, Dane."  She began to sob softly as she fell into his arms.  He slowly lifted her chin so that their eyes meet and he kissed her deeply.


MOMENTS LATER, ON THE DOCKS

The DocksGrace DavisGrace slowly walked along the edge of the docks as she tried to collect her thoughts.  She peered out across the water into the night sky.  A girlfriend!  Of course he has a girlfriend!  How stupid can I be?  She watched closely as a small boat went by.  The faint lights of Riverside flickered in the distance.  Why would someone like Dane Manchester be interested in me, anyway?  She pulled the collar of her jacket up higher around her neck as the crisp river air whipped around a corner.  I'm just a sorry kid from Ohio with sorry parents.  I'm nothing at all like Dane or the people he's used to.  She lifted a hand to wipe a tear from her cheek.  She was so lost in her own thoughts that she didn't hear the quiet fall of footsteps in the distance.  Slowly they began to grow closer.  A slight shuffling noise suddenly caught her attention and she turned in the direction of the sound.  Suddenly a hand reached out and grabbed her and a horrible scream tore from her chest.



 


NEXT TIME

Francis plans a party
Stephanie receives flowers
Dane has a plan




 


produced/written by G. Matthew Smith

2001- 2010 Classic Soap Productions