Francis Callison2210 Elmwood Lane, Albanyville, IL"Oh, Reginald, I'm so happy that you and Jillian are going to get married!"  Francis threw her arms around her son.  "And I know that your father will be just as thrilled.  You know how we both feel about Jillian.  She's almost like a daughter to us already!"  Her excitement amused him.  Reginald thought that she was almost as thrilled about his engagement as he was.

"Well, I think Jillian is going to make a wonderful Callison.  Mother, I love her very much."  Francis looked at her son and remembered him as a child.  She shook her head slightly as she realized that children grow up way too quickly.

"Now, you know that we've just got to have a huge party to announce the engagement.  Oh, this will just be the best party ever!  My little boy is going to get married!"

"Mother!"  Reginald blushed slightly.  She always got so excited when good things happened to any of her children.  Why, Maggie's plaster handprints from first grade still sat on a table in the living room.  "I want this to be the biggest party that Albanyville has ever seen.  I want Jillian to feel like a princess.  That'll really be her night, you know?"

Reginald Callison"Reginald, you let me take care of everything."  Francis walked around the living room deep in thought.  "Hmmm...we'll have to hold the party in the Grand Sunset Room.  That would be perfect.  Jillian and I can get together and take care of the music and the flowers and we've just got to pick out a new gown for her to wear..."

"I think you're going to enjoy this just as much as she is."

"Oh, you better believe I am!"  She threw her arms around him again.  "My little boy is going to get married!"


23 Green St., Albanyville, ILDouglas Davis"Grace, where have you been?  It's late."  Douglas called out as she walked in the door and slumped down in a chair.

"I went to The Well."  She thought again about Dane and the horrible embarrassment she'd felt after meeting his girlfriend Sara.  "I really don't want to talk about it."

"Honey, are you upset about something?"  He put his newspaper down and sat down beside her on the arm rest.  "You know you can talk to me about anything.  I'm here for you, kid."

"Why does everyone have to treat me like I'm twelve?" she snapped as she bolted from the chair and rushed to the other side of the living room.  "I'm almost 18 and I'm going to college in the fall.  I am not a child!  I am a grown woman and I am more than capable of taking care of myself!"

"Whoa, there, calm down.  I wasn't trying to imply that you couldn't.  Look, I don't care if you're fifty, you'll always be my little sister and I'm always gonna worry about you.  Anybody in this world gives you trouble, you let me handle 'em.  That's what big brothers are for!"

Grace Davis"I know."  She relaxed and slowly allowed the stress of the evening to drain from her body.  "It's just that I've had to depend on you to take care of me for so long.  Mom and Dad sure didn't do a very good job of it.  I guess I'm just tired of being the kid sister and the one that everyone needs to take care of.  Douglas, you need to find someone else to love and focus your attentions on.  You've been so concerned about me and my well being for so long that you've neglected to take care of what you need."

"And what do I need?"  He leaned forward in the chair to listen to what she had to say.  She always had such keen observations.  If only she could apply those observations to her own personal choices, maybe he wouldn't have to worry about her so much.  True, she was practically an adult, but she was still so naive about lots of things.

"You need a woman.  You need a girlfriend or a wife.  You need someone who can love you with all their heart.  You need to have your own life separate from mine."  Douglas couldn't help but laugh.

"Actually, honey, I've been thinking about that very subject."  He sat back in the chair and lost himself in thought for a moment.  "I'm working on taking care of that.  In fact, I think I've found the perfect woman."


Jillian StokesSunset Hotel, Suite #2, Albanyville, ILJillian considered Dane's words.  No, she couldn't believe him.  Dane was a master at twisting the truth to suit his own needs.  "Dane, you need to leave.  I have no intention nor desire to hear anything else you have to say...ever!"  She reached for the door to push it closed, but in one quick movement, he grabbed her and had her in his arms once again.

"Don't fight it.  You know you still feel the same way about me as you used to."  He kissed her passionately as she tried to pull away.  Suddenly, she felt her resolve weaken in the moment.  Despite all the warning sirens that flashed in her head, Jillian found her body responding to the touch of Dane's lips on hers.  Just as she began to return his passion, her head cleared and she found the strength to push him away.  His advances were rewarded with a quick slap across the face.  Dane grabbed his jaw and stared at her with a fire of longing in his eyes.

"I will marry Reginald and there is not one thing you can do about it!"

Dane Manchester"You're making a big mistake, Jillian, a big mistake!"  Sensing his time to leave, he walked out the door, but turned to face her one more time.  "We will be together again.  You can count on that.  No matter how hard you try to fight it, you still want me.  You won't be able to deny it for long."  Jillian slammed the door loudly and then slowly crumpled to the floor.

Why can't he just leave me alone? she asked herself.  Oh, god, I love Reginald with all my heart, but why does Dane affect me so much?  Why?