For Now and Forever
JUST MOMENTS LATER ON THE DOCKS
Grace's screams echoed out into the night and across the water as she felt the hands on her shoulders.
"Woah! Calm down!" The slightly familiar voice came from behind her. Grace breathed deeply and swallowed hard. She turned slowly and heaved a huge sigh of relief when she realized that it was Trevor behind her. "Sorry, Grace, I didn't mean to scare you."
"At least it's you, Trevor." She ran her hands through her hair as she tried to shake off the last remnants of fear. After a moment, she began to get angry. "What do you think you're doing coming up behind me like that? You scared me half to death!"
"I just saw you out walking alone and I was concerned." Trevor stepped back away from her to give her a little space. "Don't you know that these docks aren't exactly the safest places in the world at night? You really shouldn't be out here by yourself!"
"I really think that I can take care of myself." She said flatly as she looked at him with a stern gaze.
"You really think so? What would you have done if I had been some thug out to get you?" He paused for a moment to give her a chance to respond. He got nothing but silence. "Just what I thought. Grace, you don't need to be out here by yourself."
"Would you just leave me alone?" Her patience began to draw thin. "I have a lot on my mind right now and I really don't feel like talking right now." He smiled broadly as he saw a different side of Grace.
"Well, I see 'Miss Bashful' has quite a backbone. Why does that not come as a surprise to me?"
"I can be a little stubborn." She allowed herself a slight grin as she lowered her head. "Douglas says that I was always like that. He told me that when I was a baby, I refused to believe the stove was hot until I touched it and got burnt. Then I had to do it again a few days later, just to make sure." Trevor laughed at her story and reached out to take her hand.
"At least let me take you home. I know you say you can take care of yourself, but it would make me feel better to know you weren't out her by yourself. I bet it would make your brother feel better, too." She paused for a moment and rolled her eyes.
"Alright, Trevor, take me home."
"At your service." He smiled at her and followed her back to the steps that led up to the street.
A LITTLE LATER AT JILLIAN'S APARTMENT
Jillian's concentration was broken by a knock at the door. She put down the book she'd been reading and went to see who could possibly be interrupting her evening. She wasn't happy to find Dane standing on the other side. "Dane, what do you want?" She looked coldly at him as she held tightly to both the door and the door frame. "You have no business coming here!"
"Jillian, don't you know by now that you're the only thing I want?" He cooed softly at her and attempted to push his way in. She stood firm and would not let him pass.
"And what about Sara? What does she mean to you?" Jillian paused for a moment to collect her thoughts. "Have you lead her to believe that she's the one and only for you, too?"
"Sara Summers is merely someone who's keeping your place warm until you come to your senses." With one swift move, he caught Jillian uncharacteristically off guard and swept her into his arms. "You're the one I truly want, not Sara." Jillian began to beat on Dane's chest as she struggled to pull out of his clutches.
"What you need to do is forget about me and leave me alone!" She kicked him solidly in the shin and quickly moved away. "You need to focus on Sara. She is the girl you cheated on me with! She's the one you chose, go to her!"
"That wasn't a choice I made on my own. You're the one who forced my hand! You had to go and feign hurt pride and run back to New York. Now, let me tell you, if you think I'm just going to sit around and pine away for anyone, you are sadly mistaken! Surely you can't expect a man like myself to not have a beautiful girl at his side."
"It wasn't hurt pride that sent me running away from you," she spat. "That, Dane, was total disgust!"
"Okay, I admit that I was wrong." Dane softened his tone. "I was wrong to ruin what we had by running around with Sara. We were so good together. I have regretted messing it all up ever since. That was the worst mistake of my life. Can't you let me make amends? Let me make it all up to you. I know you still have feelings for me." Jillian looked at him as she began to analyze his every word. He sounded sincere, but this was Dane. She knew he had no trouble at all lying with a straight face. Could she allow herself to believe him?
MEANWHILE, AT THE LAKE APARTMENT
"I'm coming!" Stephanie called out as she raced across the living room to answer the door. "Yes?"
"Stephanie Lake?" the deliveryman asked as he looked up from the card in his hand. "These are for you." He handed her a large bouquet of lilies. Stephanie cradled them in her arms and slowly shut the door.
"Stephanie, dear, who was that at the door?" Annabelle breezed into the room amidst a cloud of cigarette smoke. Her eyes grew wide when she saw the flowers. "Oh, my! Stephanie, who are those for?"
"They're for me, Mother! Who else could they be for?" Annabelle tried to hide her disappointment. For a brief moment, she'd thought that maybe Charles had come to his senses. Stephanie quickly began to fumble with the card and carefully read the writing. "'Thinking of you'"
"Stephanie, honey, who are they from? Who does the card say they're from?" Annabelle nearly burst with excitement. She'd mentioned to Reginald a few weeks ago about Stephanie and she'd subtly suggested that they go out. She remembered that he didn't act very comfortable at the mention of her daughter's name, but Annabelle knew how those society men were. First you have the socially prominent wife or girlfriend and then you have the real love on the side. She'd learned that over the years from her own many experiences with men.
"There's no name, just the message 'thinking of you'."
"There from Reginald, I'm sure of it!" Annabelle grabbed her daughter and spun her around the room.
"Momma, how can you be so sure?" Stephanie looked at her cautiously. "We haven't even started working on getting him away from Jillian, yet!"
"Well....I sort of took the liberty a few weeks ago to talk to him about you. He acted rather nonchalant about it, at the time, but I just know that he was hiding his real interest in you. You know how men can be!" Stephanie looked again at the card.
Did Reginald send these? she thought. That just doesn't sound right. But...maybe? Oh, I hope Mother's right! Maybe he has realized that he made the wrong choice! Their conversation was disrupted when Sara burst through the door.
"Sara, honey, what's wrong? You seem upset?" Annabelle rushed to her niece's side and took her in her arms.
"I-It's nothing. Really." Sara tried to hold back a tear. She couldn't bare to tell them that her faith in Dane's love was starting to waver.
"It's Dane, isn't it, Sara." Annabelle knew instinctively that all of a woman's problems could be traced to a man. "I can't believe that you let him take control of you like he does! What you need to do is put your foot down and get him to marry you!"
"M-marry me?" Sara looked up at her through half-bleary eyes. She knew Dane would never marry her. She doubted that he would marry anyone!
"Yes, dear." Annabelle sat Sara down on the sofa and motioned for Stephanie to join them. "How many times must I tell you girls that to truly hold on to a man, you've got to get the ring and you've got to get the wedding. Until you have that, then any girl with a half ounce of gumption can just come right along and steal him away from you. Women are a competitive lot and men aren't exactly the brightest when it comes to women. Sometimes we've just gotta think for them. They never know what they really want." Stephanie considered what her mother was saying and thought about Reginald. Sara wondered if Annabelle was right. If she could get Dane to marry her, would that solve all of their problems? Maybe....
IT'S EVENING AT THE CALLISON HOME
"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, 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!"
MEANWHILE AT THE DAVIS HOME
"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!"
"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."
BACK AT JILLIAN'S APARTMENT
Jillian 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!"
"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?
LATE EVENING IN GRACE'S BEDROOM IN THE DAVIS HOME
Grace sprawled across her bed and flipped through the pages of her diary. She carefully read a passage that she'd written a few days earlier and giggled when she remembered the runaway frog in biology class. She turned to the next blank page and began to write...
Dear Diary, I finally got to meet Dane Manchester tonight! Oh, he is so witty and dashing. I also found out he has a girlfriend. She's Stephanie Lake's cousin, no less! From what I saw, she's ever bit as snotty and rude as Stephanie can be. Must be something in the water that family's been drinking...
Grace felt her eyelids grow heavy and soon the diary and pencil dropped from her hand as she drifted off to sleep...
"Grace, will you do me the honor of sharing this dance?" Dane asked as he took her hand.
"Oh, yes!" Dane spun Grace onto the floor as her long ball gown flowed behind her. Dane pulled her close and she rested her head on his shoulder. The sky was clear and the stars were out. It was so magical.
"Grace, I've been wanting to tell you something for a long time." She gazed up at him and he smiled at her. "Grace Davis, I love you. I've loved you from the moment I first laid eyes on you. Please tell me that you'll marry me. I don't think I could stand it if you said 'no'."
"Oh, yes, Dane, yes!" He kissed her deeply as the orchestra swelled in the distance. As he held her tightly, Grace could spy Sara across the room sitting alone and utterly defeated. Stephanie sat with her and kept handing her handkerchiefs to wipe her tears. Sara had lost Dane forever. There was no way she could compete against the love that he and Grace shared.
Grace's eyes flew open as the dream faded and she was forced to return to reality. Still groggy, she looked around her room in disappointment when no orchestra, no stars, and no Dane appeared. It was just a dream, she thought. But it could happen, couldn't it? A man like Dane really could love me, couldn't he?
MEANWHILE, IN THE STUDY OF THE CALLISON HOME
Trevor pulled the sheet of paper from the typewriter and quickly crumpled it before tossing it to the floor. It was a pattern that he'd followed for hours as he tried to work on his article for The Daily Post. He stared at the pile of discarded ideas and slowly his mind began to drift from The New Deal to Grace Davis. What in the devil is wrong with me? Why can't I get her out of my head? He got up from the desk and walked over to the window. He looked out and saw the moon and stars and remembered the events on the dock. What is it about her? She's such as bundle of contradictions. His thoughts turned to Lorraine. He knew she was going to get hurt. That was the last thing that Trevor wanted, but meeting Grace had made him realize that his feelings for Lorraine went exactly what he thought they were. Sure, she was a wonderful woman and he considered himself very lucky to be the recipient of her love, but there was just something that wasn't quite right about their relationship. His sudden feelings for Grace only proved that. I can't hurt Lorraine, I just can't. But why can't I get Grace out of my head?
LATER, AT THE RIVERVIEW NIGHTCLUB
Dane walked in and went straight to the bar for a vodka tonic. As he sipped his drink, he turned around and saw Stephanie sitting at the bar. He smiled when he remembered what he knew about her and wondered why he hadn't thought of it before. "Well, Stephanie, what are you doing in here at this time of night? Don't you have school tomorrow?"
"Hello, Dane, I could ask you the same thing." She tossed her hair over her shoulder and smiled at him. "So what happened between you and Sara tonight? She seemed a little upset when she got home."
"You know how she can be. She blows things way out of proportion. She always makes more out of things than they really are." He paused for a moment as he considered his best course of action. "But, let's not talk about Sara. In fact, there's something I do want to talk to you about."
"And what would that be?"
"Well, I want to talk to you about Reginald Callison." Dane smiled when he realized he had her undivided attention. She grew increasingly nervous at the mention of Reginald's name.
"W-what would I know about Reginald?"
"Stephanie, I know all about your little fling with him." Dane took another sip of his drink.
"I don't have any idea what you're talking about!" She grew defensive. How could Dane know about her and Reginald? No one knew! No one except....Sara! Well, Stephanie didn't know for a fact that Sara knew, but she always suspected that Sara had figured it out.
"Let's just say I have my ways. You see, I have my own past with Jillian." Dane began to wonder if it was wise to reveal his intentions to his girlfriend's cousin. Then again, he and Stephanie were sort of kindred spirits. They both went after what they wanted no matter who got in the way. "What do you say we work together?"
"Work together for what? And what about Sara?"
"Look, Steph, I know you still want Reginald and I know you're not the least bit happy about the fact that he's gotten engaged to Jillian. I'm not happy about it either. I refuse to stand back and allow Jillian to marry him! Now, if we work together and you can get to Reginald and I can get to Jillian, we can both get what we want."
"B-but what about Sara?" Stephanie's concern for her cousin's feelings were genuine. Though they weren't close growing up, since Sara had been in Albanyville, they'd become like sisters. "If you get Jillian back, where does that leave Sara? I refuse to hurt her!"
"Stephanie, Sara's young and she's resilient. She'll get over it and she'll move on." He looked her right in the eyes. "What's more important to you...protecting Sara or getting back Reginald?" He watched as she grew uncomfortable and lowered her head. "Just what I thought. So, do we have a deal? Are we going to work together to make sure that Reginald and Jillian don't get married?"
Stephanie hesitated for a moment before looking up at Dane. "Okay, partner, what's your plan?"
TO BE CONTINUED
Annabelle continues her pursuit of Charles
For Now and Forever
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