For Now and Forever
ONE AFTERNOON, A FEW DAYS LATER, AT THE PAGE TURNER BOOKSTORE
Young Grace Davis looked intently as she slowly moved down the racks of books. A smile of joy leapt across her face as she found the exact volume she'd been searching for. She pulled the book off the shelf and began to read the beautiful words. As she slowly turned to walk away, she suddenly collided with another customer. Quickly looking up from her reading, she was surprised to see Trevor Callison standing in front of her. "Oh! Trevor, I am so sorry. I wasn't watching where I was going."
"That's alright, Grace." He stepped back to look at her and smile. He found it rather amusing how she could get so flustered merely by bumping into someone. He glanced down to see what book she'd been so involved in. He smiled again when he realized that it was Callison Publications' latest collection of poetry. "I didn't realize you were so into reading poems."
"Well, I didn't used to be. We were studying this one poet in English class and his work really spoke to me. I had to find out what else he'd written." Trevor leaned over to see the author's name.
"Jefferson MacCauley! He's one of my favorites. I think he has lots of potential to become quite renowned later on. I even got to meet him once. Father convinced him to let me do an article on him for The Post. He's a fascinating man."
"Wow!" Grace's eyes grew big at the thought of actually meeting someone famous. "I can't believe you actually met him! I just love how he compares the love he feels for his lady to the seasons. That's how I want to feel someday."
"Surely you have boys knocking down Douglas' door to get to you." Trevor looked at her and studied her every feature. Her blonde hair sparkled in the sunlight that poured in through the big front windows of the shop. He looked deep into her eyes and was quick to notice that, although bright blue and filled with innocence, a cloud of knowledge beyond her years hung there. He couldn't help but wonder where an air of such worldly experience could have come from. She blushed slightly before shaking her head.
"No, that would be Stephanie Lake. She's the one in school all the boys want to take out. I'm the one they all want to have help with their English assignments." She thought about what it would be like to have guys actually knocking down the door to get to her and laughed. No, boys wouldn't be running over one another to take her to a movie.
"Then the boys you know are complete and utter fools." He put his hand on her shoulder. "Just wait until they get a little older and realize what a true prize you are."
"Thank you." She blushed again at the compliment. "Well, I've really got to get home. I've got a test tomorrow in Algebra and I need to study."
"Well, good luck on it." She waved to him as she proceeded to the cashier to pay for the book. As Trevor watched her, he began to wonder why he couldn't empty his head of thoughts of Grace. She was so sweet and innocent and pretty, but he loved Lorraine. Well...at least he thought he did. Why, now, were thoughts of Grace blocking out all thoughts of Lorraine?
MEANWHILE, IN THE LAKE APARTMENT
Stephanie Lake sat at the kitchen table with piles of text books around her. As she put the finishing touches on her English homework, the lead snapped in her pencil. With a frustrated groan, she flung it to the floor and ,defeated, dropped her head to the table. "I'm never going get all this work done! Lord, please just let me make it to finals."
"Honestly, Stephanie, I don't know why you spend so much time on homework." Annabelle walked into the kitchen and poured herself a cup of coffee. "A pretty young woman like you should be out living. You need to socialize more."
"Mother, I socialize plenty." She looked up from her books and then took a long stretch before pushing herself away from the table. "Besides, I think a woman holds much more interest to a man if she is well read and can carry a conversation. Those are things that only happen when one gets an education. Mother, I want to go to college after graduation. I want to be somebody!"
"Dear, you can be somebody by marrying the right kind of man." Annabelle lit a cigarette and inhaled the smoke deeply. "All this stuff about Shakespeare and Newton and Washington is a total bore. If you can hold a conversation about the latest films and music and current events, now that's what will make you interesting to a man. Well, that and your looks." She watched her daughter as she slumped down in the chair slightly. "Stephanie, sit up straight! I don't care how educated you plan on being, no man with give you the time of day all slouched over like a common washer woman!"
"Yes, Mother." She straightened up again and pushed her shoulders back to achieve the posture her mother had requested. This wasn't a new conversation between them. Stephanie knew she was pretty and popular. She had tons of willing suitors to prove that point. However, Stephanie wanted more. She wanted to represent more than a vapid prom queen who spent her entire life giggling a the silly jokes that boys told, most of which weren't even funny..
"Now, if you can find the right, wealthy man to marry, you'll gain instant importance! Everything you say will matter then." She put her hand on her daughter's shoulder. "Someone like Reginald Callison. He would be perfect for you. The Callisons are probably the most prominent family in town and they have lots of money. You know Reginald will take over the family business one day?"
"Yes, Mother, I know." Stephanie got out of her chair and walked across the room to stare out the window. Reginald....how did I let you get away? She's right, you were exactly what I needed. I can't believe I let you choose Jillian over me. Well, it's too late to change things now. Or is it?
LATER THAT EVENING IN PATTERSON'S LIVING ROOM
"Oh, how I've missed you, Todd." Lorraine hugged the little boy tightly while Patterson watched with a smile. No matter what had happened between them, Lorraine still made an effort to see Todd. She knew that although the death of their parents was hard on Patterson, it was especially hard for a child.
"Now, Todd, go take the new train that Lorraine brought you and go show it to Mrs. Oliver. I want to talk to her alone for a minute." Todd grabbed the train off the table and ran to hug Patterson before he bounded up the stairs to his room. "Lorraine, I want you to know how special I think it is that you still come by to see Todd even though we aren't seeing each other anymore."
"Patterson, no matter what happened between us, I still care about Todd, and about you, very much." She motioned for him to join her on the couch and then held his hand in hers. "We can't all be friends just because our relationship didn't work out." He looked at her longingly. He never quite understood why she broke up with him. He knew it wasn't to go out with Trevor. They did start seeing one another until quite some time later.
"Why did we have to end, Lorraine? I thought things were pretty good between us."
"Oh, they were, darling, they were!" She pulled him close to her and he inhaled her deep floral scent she always wore. "It's just that I realized that I cared about you more as a friend than anything else." He pulled back suddenly and winced at the words. He knew the intent was innocent, but the words stung like a slap. Patterson truly thought that their relationship had meant more.
"I-I see," he stammered. "So, you think of me and Todd kinda like brothers?"
"Well, not exactly. Kinda, but not quite." She smiled as she tried to find the right words. "Todd, yes, definitely as the little brother I never had. You, I think of you as more than a brother. More than a friend, actually. Patterson, you're kind of like my best friend. I trust you enough that I could tell you almost anything." For some reason, Lorraine's high praise didn't make Patterson feel all that wonderful. "Look, I love Trevor very much. I never thought I could be this in love with a man. All my life I've waited for someone to make me feel like this. He understands me so well. He's perfect for me!" He looked up at her again. Why did he get the impression that Lorraine was hiding something?
IT'S DINNER TIME IN THE LAKE HOME
"Now, Stephanie, I could always invite you to stop by the office one day after school and I might just happen to bump into Reginald..." Annabelle continued to go on about getting her daughter to pursue the dashing Callison heir.
"Annabelle, if Stephanie wanted to go after Reginald, she would already have done it." Sara spoke up.
"Sara, dear, Stephanie has lots of womanly skills that are just going to waste on these little boys in her class. They are so beneath her. She needs to set her sights higher. You would be wise to do the same, young lady."
"I have a boyfriend." Sara stated firmly as she clinched her teeth. "Dane is going to go to law school. I'm going to be a lawyers wife, someday. I don't need nor want another man."
"Well, alright, whatever...."
Stephanie only half listened to their exchange as her thoughts drifted off. All of her mother's talk about Reginald had forced her to remember things from the past...things she had so tried to forget.
So you're planning on seeing me and Jillian both? she'd asked on more than one occasion. I thought you were just saying how much you loved her.
I do! Reginald had replied. I just can't let myself get too involved. I'm not ready for all that a serious relationship requires. You can keep me from getting too involved, Stephanie. You're the one who can remind me that I'm way too young to think about settling down.
Oh, how his words still rang in her ears. Sure, she'd been a fool to believe that he could continue to see both of them at the same time. She'd been an even bigger fool to fall in love with him. She'd know all along that he would never leave Jillian. He called her "the greatest love of his life". Stephanie had only been a pleasant diversion. But it felt like more than that when they'd made love. What a fool she'd been to get caught up in the moment. Then it was over.
Why can't we still see each other? She'd cried on his shoulder. You can still be with her. I just want a part of your heart. There's room enough for both of us.
Stephanie, I can't. I realize now that I was wrong. I love Jillian too much to even consider betraying her again like I've already done so many times. Besides, it's not fair to you. You are so special, Stephanie. You deserve someone who can love you with his entire heart without reservation. I can't do that. I care about you so much, but I love Jillian. That will never change. Maybe if circumstance were different. Maybe if Jillian and I weren't together. There are lots of maybes, Stephanie. All I know is what's real right now, and what's real is me and Jillian. And with those words, Reginald left her to cry herself to sleep. That had been some time ago. Since then, Stephanie had tried to force herself to forget about him. She would almost succeed, but then she'd read his name in the masthead of the newspaper or her mother would tell her how perfect they would be together.
"Stephanie! Are you even listening to a word I'm saying?" Annabelle's voice invaded her thoughts and brought her back to the present. "Are you going to take my advice and go after Reginald or not? You know as well as I do that Jillian Stokes can't even hold a candle to you."
Stephanie paused for a moment and looked at her mother. She remembered, once again, the beautiful times that she'd shared with Reginald. Slowly, she straightened her shoulders and flipped her hair behind her ear. "Yes, Mother, I'll do it. You're right." She lifted her glass slowly to take a sip. "Reginald is the perfect man for me and I want him for my own. Jillian doesn't stand a chance."
MEANWHILE, AT THE WISHING WELL
Grace walked tentatively into the soda shop. She paused for a moment to smooth her hair and straighten her skirt before she walked up to the counter and ordered a cream soda. When she turned to survey the restaurant, she spotted him instantly. He was sitting across the room in a booth surrounded by attractive co-eds. Grace sighed deeply as she watched them. The girls were clearly hanging on his every word. She could understand why. Dane Manchester was one of the most handsome men at Albanyville University. She'd first seen him in Douglas' office while he was doing an internship months earlier. She'd been enamored of him ever since. She grew nervous that he'd see her staring and quickly looked away. Sipping her soda, Grace glanced around the restaurant and found an unoccupied table in the corner. She sat down and began to look at a menu, but couldn't resist watching Dane again. As she looked up, she was embarrassed to find him looking back at her. Had she been too obvious? Suddenly, she felt like an utter fool. She sunk down in her chair in an effort to disappear and began to read the menu again. Is he still looking? she wondered before slowly lifting her eyes.
"Hello," Dane smiled as he stood right in front of her. Grace quickly looked around in hopes of finding some means of escape. When she realized she was stuck, she had no option but smile back and respond.
"H-hello. Look, I'm really sorry. I didn't mean to stare." He laughed at her embarrassment.
"It's quite alright. You're name is Grace Davis, right?" She was stunned that he even remembered her since their meeting was so brief.
"Y-yes! I'm Douglas' sister. We met once in his office."
"Ahhh...yes, I remember it well." He flashed her his trademark smile. "Do you mind if I join you?"
"Ummm...no, not at all." Her face flushed again as he sat down at her table. Now that he was sitting there talking to her, what in the world would she do?
IT'S EARLY EVENING AT LORRAINE'S APARTMENT
"Todd is growing so fast. I can't believe what a big boy he's gotten to be." Lorraine relaxed in Trevor's arms as they sat on her sofa listening to the radio. She softly stroked his arm while resting her head against his shoulder. "I really should make more of an effort to see him and Patterson. It's so horrible what's happened. I really don't know what I would do in the same situation. What do you think, dear?" She paused for a moment to allow him to answer, but no response came. She turned around slightly to look at him and was quick to see that his eyes were focused off into space. He hadn't heard a word she'd said. "Trevor? You're not even listening!"
"Oh, um, what?" He snapped himself back into reality. "I'm sorry, honey, my mind drifted for a minute." He couldn't tell her that he was thinking about Grace.
"I was telling you about stopping by to see Patterson and Todd earlier today. I really need to spend more time with Todd. He misses his mother so much. It's just been over six months since the accident. I wanted to know what you thought."
"Oh, definitely. Dr. and Mrs. Monroe were such good people. He took really good care of my grandfather right before he died. I owe it to him to watch out for Todd. Patterson has such an uphill struggle now to take care of him and go to school." He paused for a moment as a thought stuck him. "I know! Let's have both of them over for dinner sometime. I know Patterson would appreciate being able to get out. That is, well, unless you feel uncomfortable around him. I know you two used to date."
"Patterson understands my feelings for him are strictly as friends, now." Lorraine again laid her head on his shoulder as she gazed out the window. "Where were you a minute ago?"
"Right here, silly. I've been here all night."
"No, Trevor, I mean in your head." She sighed softly before kissing his arm. "You were thinking about something else. Here I was rambling on like a fool and you weren't even paying attention." He felt guilty for not focusing all his attention on her. Why couldn't he get Grace Davis out of his head?
"I've got a big article on Roosevelt's social security plan coming up. You know, one of those political pieces about the benefits and drawbacks. Rather boring actually, but I've got to make it a good one." He surprised himself with exactly how easily the lie came to him. He hated deceiving her, but how could he tell Lorraine that his thoughts were filled with another woman?
"You know, sometimes I think the only things you think about are work and me." She laughed a slightly uneasy laugh. For some reason, his explanation didn't quite ring true. She turned to kiss him, but he suddenly pulled away.
"Honey, I'm sorry, but I've got an early day at the paper tomorrow and I'm really tired." Another lie. He grew uncomfortable at how easy they were starting to come. "I really need to head home and get to bed." He got up and went to put on his jacket. She watched him closely as she tried to hide the uneasiness that began to cloud her face.
"I understand. Work is very important to you." Her shoulders slumped slightly in disappointment. "I'll see you tomorrow?"
"Of course, dear." He laughed slightly. Lorraine walked with him to the door and he turned to face her before kissing her lightly. "You know how much I care for you."
As she gently closed the door behind him, a million thoughts raced though her head. There's something else going on. she thought. If only it were all about work, but it's not! What in the world is going on with him?
IT'S EARLY EVENING AT JOE'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.
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.
"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.
"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
Grace 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.
"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.
"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
Grace 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.
TO BE CONTINUED
plans a party
For Now and Forever
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