For Now and Forever
IT'S A FEW AFTERNOONS LATER IN APRIL, 1935, IN REGINALD'S OFFICE
"Well, Patterson, I don't know what to do about her." Reginald leaned back in his chair and twirled a pencil around his fingers. "I thought about just telling Jillian everything, but I realized it would hurt her too much. Stephanie is going to do her best to cause problems. I know it!"
"She can be pretty stubborn." Patterson paced around the office as he thought of his friend's situation. Patterson and Reginald had only known each other casually until after the deaths of Patterson's parents. Reginald felt badly for him and his situation and went out of his way to help him and his brother out during that difficult time. As a result, a fairly strong friendship had formed. "I've had a couple of run-ins with her, myself. Once, when I was still in high school, she locked a girl in the washroom because she was at a dance with a guy she wanted. Remember when Molly Towne had to leave school?"
"Yeah, I think I heard Trevor talking about it. I was already away at Harvard when that happened."
"Well, I don't know the details, but I'm almost positive that Stephanie had something to do with that, too." Patterson paused by an open window and looked out onto the street below. "I'm thoroughly convinced that Stephanie Lake will do anything to get what she wants and won't let anything or anyone stand in her way."
"That's what I was afraid of." Reginald leaned onto the desk and put his head in his hands as he thought about the ramifications of Jillian learning the truth. "I must have been crazy to start seeing Stephanie behind Jillian's back!"
"Look, I didn't know about it until later when you told me after it was over. Trust me, if I'd know about it at the time, I'd have said something to bring you back to your senses!"
"I can't let her ruin my life with Jillian!" Reginald got up from his chair and picked up the framed photograph of Jillian that he'd kept there almost since he met her. He gazed at the picture and thought about how much he loved her. He didn't want to see her hurt.
"Reginald, if you want to keep Jillian from getting hurt, you've got to keep Stephanie's wild schemes at bay." Patterson walked over to his friend and placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. "You and Jillian have one of the most beautiful relationships of anyone I know. Stephanie cannot be allowed to destroy that!"
"I know, I know...." Reginald shook his head as it hung low in despair. He had to stop Stephanie from destroying everything he had with Jillian. But how?
MEANWHILE, AT THE LAKE APARTMENT
"I've just got to figure out some way to get Reginald away from that snotty witch Jillian." Stephanie paced around the room as her mind raced with possible solutions. "I don't stand a chance as long as she's got him dazzled by her 'society airs'."
"Sounds to me like you'll have to get her out of the picture." Sara sat on the sofa as she tried to study and listen to Stephanie at the same time. She sighed and shut the book when she realized that Stephanie was winning that contest, at least. "But how can you go about getting Jillian to not want anything to do with Reginald? I bet if she dumped him, for some reason, he'd turn right to you in an instant."
"You know, I bet you're right." Stephanie stopped dead in her tracks as an idea struck her. She couldn't believe she hadn't thought of it before. The solution was so obvious. "And I know just the perfect way."
"Uh, oh." Sara turned to face her and tried to guess what her plan was. "Steph, you're not gonna tell her about you and Reginald, are you?"
"I'd rather not say what my plans are." Stephanie grinned wickedly as her mind continued to put the pieces of her scheme together.
"You can't! If Jillian tells him you're the one who told her, you'll be worse off with Reginald than you are now! He'll never get involved with you again after that!"
"You just leave everything to me." Stephanie felt a new sense of confidence and calm wash over her body. "I think I know Jillian well enough to know how she's going to react. She'll do exactly what I need her to." She smiled again and thought about how close she was to getting everything she wanted. Sara prayed she knew what she was doing.
MEANWHILE, AT THE GARDENS
"Grace, I really want to thank you for agreeing to have lunch with me today." Trevor pushed his plate away as he finished his last bite. He looked across the table at her and admired her simple beauty.
"I'm glad I came." She smiled at him warmly while the waiter cleared their plates. "Trevor, I really want to apologize for how rottenly I've treated you the last couple of weeks. You really are a very sweet guy and you haven't deserved some of the mean spirited things I've said."
"What things?" He tried to think of how she'd been mean to him. He could only recall her being one of the most genuinely honest and sincere people he'd ever met. "The only time I know of when you were even the slightest bit abrupt with me was that night on the docks. And since I scared you to death, like I did, I more than deserved it!"
"Well, I feel like I've been rotten to you. But, I just wanted to tell you how wonderful I think you are."
"Grace, I like you a lot, too." He reached across the table and took her hand in his. "There's something so innocent about you, yet something so keenly aware all at the same time. You seem so worldly and yet so naive. Why is that?"
"Douglas and I didn't have the easiest time growing up." She revealed as she looked down at the table. She didn't know why she was about to tell things that she didn't even like to think about, but she had become so comfortable with Trevor. True, they didn't really know each other that well, yet, but there was such and ease that had developed to their friendship. She felt secure that she could tell him anything and he wouldn't judge her. "Unlike you and your family, we didn't grow up with a lot of money. We had to fight for everything we got. Of course, that was pretty difficult since Daddy drank way too much. He drank so much it finally killed him...."
"Oh, Grace, I'm so sorry."
"It's okay. That was a long time ago." She felt the old feelings begin to cloud her mind and she hesitated on continuing. She had to, she realized. She had to tell someone and get it all out. She had to stop being ashamed and embarrassed about the kind of life she'd had. Trevor is a good person. He'll listen to me and he won't judge me. I know it! "Well, Momma couldn't handle life without him too well. She sorta lost the ability to function and had to go into a hospital. That's why I came to live with Douglas and finish school."
"Grace, I had no idea you two had such a rough time of it." He felt his heart break for the little girl she had been and the pain she'd had to endure.
"It was a long time ago. I try not to think about it any more."
Trevor looked across the table at her as he tried to collect his thoughts. He couldn't explain it, but Grace had an affect on him like no woman had in a long time. "Grace," he began tentatively. "Grace, would you be interested in seeing me more socially? I-I mean, would you consider seeing me as more than just a friend?"
Grace was more than a little taken aback. She'd had no idea that Trevor had romantic inclinations toward her. Sure, he was a very handsome and charming man and probably one of the most decent human beings that she'd ever know; but didn't he have a girlfriend. "Trevor, I'm shocked, I-I had no idea that you felt that way about me. But what about Lorraine? I thought you two were seeing one another?"
He paused for a moment. How could he explain the feelings he had for both Grace and Lorraine?
IT'S LATE AFTERNOON AT JILLIAN'S APARTMENT
"I'm coming!" Jillian called out as she rushed across the living room to answer the knock at the door. "Hello?" she said as she flung the door open.
"Beautiful flowers for a beautiful lady." Dane smiled warmly as he held out the bouquet of roses. Without saying a word, Jillian quickly shoved the door closed, but he blocked it with his foot and pushed his way into the apartment.
"Dane, don't you understand that I don't want to see you?" She moved away from him as he continued to hold out the flowers. "How many times do I have to tell you to leave me alone?"
"I just saw these and thought of you." He smiled and moved closer to her as he watched her expressions and movements. "Jillian, don't tell me you won't even accept beautiful roses!"
"Not from you!" She folder her arms across her chest and glared at him. "Get out!"
"When are you going to realize that what we had is too strong to deny? When are you going to admit that you still love me?"
"How does 'never' sound?" Jillian began to grow angry at Dane's persistence. Why couldn't he leave her alone? Was he hell bent on destroying any chance at happiness that she had? "Yes, Dane, I did love you once. That was my mistake. I was young and foolish and you took advantage of that. Finally, I saw through all of your lies and betrayals. I am marrying Reginald. He is kind and decent and honest and sincere....nothing like you at all!"
"Really?" Dane smirked slightly as he thought about what Jillian didn't know. "Is he really as wonderful as you say?"
"Gee, Jillian, are you sure you know Reginald as well as you think you do?" Dane smiled confidently at her as she began to wonder exactly what he was trying to imply.
MEANWHILE, AT THE GARDENS
Trevor paused for a moment to organize his thoughts as he thought about Lorraine and exactly what she meant to him. "Grace, Lorraine is probably one of the kindest and most wonderful women that I've ever met. I don't even think she realizes exactly how wonderful she is."
"But....do you love her?" Grace's question shook Trevor. It was the same question that he'd been asking himself for weeks now. At one time, he was sure the answer was "yes", but now that he'd met Grace....
"At one time, yes, I was very much in love with her. Well, actually, I realize, now, that I only thought I was in love with her. Like I said, Grace, she's a wonderful woman, but there's something I really just can't explain. Love really isn't something you can define. There's no checklist to mark off so that you'll know when you're in love."
"I know that, Trevor." She began to grow a little irritated with him. Why is he starting to talk to me like I'm three, again? I know what love is! "Love is more than a feeling; it's a state of being. It's like something that wraps itself around you and you can't shake it, no matter what! You don't know why...you can't explain it, but it's there. That's why, sometimes, the people we should be in love with, we aren't; and the people that we'd be least likely to fall for have our hearts in an instant."
"That's it!" he exclaimed. "That's exactly how I'm feeling! I can't explain it, Grace, but I thought I had everything figured out. I loved Lorraine and I knew my life was going to be with her, but then something happened and I had to reevaluate everything. I had to totally rethink all of my feelings!"
"So, what happened?"
"You! You happened!" Trevor leaned closer to her and looked deep into her eyes. "Since I met you, I can't keep you out of my thoughts and out of my dreams. You've made me realize that I don't love Lorraine and maybe I never did. Grace, I can't explain any of it. I want you, not her." Surprised, Grace leaned away from him. She'd had no idea his feelings were this intense.
"Trevor, you need to forget any kind of romantic feelings you have for me! My heart is set on another man! There is no way we can be together." She felt sad for him as she watched the pained expressions on his face. "That unnamed, mysterious feeling that you can't shake is exactly what I feel for someone else...not you."
"W-who is he?" His voice trembled slightly as the realization of his foolishness began to sink in.
"I can't say. I'm afraid that if I tell anyone who has my heart, I'll curse any chance I have. Just know that it isn't you."
"Well, whoever he is is one very lucky man." Trevor leaned in to her once again and gently placed his hand on hers. "I hope he appreciates you and everything that you are." He pressed his lips to hers softly. Though, stunned, Grace didn't pull away. It wouldn't hurt anything to give him just one kiss. Neither one saw Lorraine as she walked into the restaurant.
MEANWHILE, AT THE LAKE APARTMENT
"Now who could that be?" Stephanie asked and turned in the direction of a knock at the door. "I'm coming!" She opened the door to see Patterson. "Oh, Patterson, come in. Um...what are you doing here?"
"I need to have a word with you, Stephanie," he said as he eyed her closely before looking at Sara. "Alone!"
"I get the hint." Sara scooped up her purse and sweater and headed for the door. "Besides, I've got to go check on some information about a wedding. I'll talk to you later, Steph."
"Alright, now that you've got me to yourself, what do you want?" Stephanie asked after Sara was gone.
"I want you to leave Reginald and Jillian alone. They are two very good friends of mine and I don't want you doing anything to ruin any kind of happiness they have!"
"Actually, this is really none of your business." She turned a cold shoulder to him. "But if you must know, Jillian is not the right woman for Reginald. She's just not able to deal with a man as passionate as he is."
"Stephanie, I know all about your little fling with him right after they started seeing one another." His revelation shocked her. She'd had no idea that Reginald had confided in anyone about their affair. She, herself, had only hinted about it to Sara. Granted, Sara had figured it out and now knew everything, but Stephanie was sure that Reginald wouldn't have told anyone in fear of Jillian finding out.
"So, he told you?" She waited until Patterson's nods confirmed the truth. "Well, to say I'm surprised would be an understatement. I really didn't believe he'd be so forthcoming about our affair."
"It was his guilt that forced him to tell me. He felt guilty for betraying Jillian and their love and he had to tell someone."
"I didn't realize that you were his official 'confessor', Patterson." She paced around the room nervously. If his guilt had forced him to confess to Patterson, did it also force him to confess to Jillian? "Who else did he spill his guts to?"
"Not Jillian, if that's what you're asking! He knows what that kind of a betrayal would do to her. The last thing Reginald wants to see is Jillian hurt. He loves her too much for that." She breathed a sigh of relief. Jillian didn't know the truth.
"He might love her, but he needs me!"
"What he needs is to be left alone!" Patterson reached out and grabbed Stephanie's arm and held it tightly. "Why are you so hell bent on destroying any kind of happiness they might have?"
"Why are you so insistent on sticking your nose where it doesn't belong?" She snatched her arm away and shot him a disdainful look. "Why do you feel the need to come into my home and interfere in my life?"
"Because you're trying to destroy the lives of two people I care about very much! Reginald and his family have been very good to me and my brother since the accident. The last thing I want is to see them hurt."
"You know, Patterson, maybe if you had a woman of your own, you wouldn't be so obsessed with everyone else's love lives!" Stephanie's verbal slap forced him to take a step backwards. "Why don't you go home and play 'daddy' to that little brother of yours and lock yourself away from the rest of the world because you're too scared of it! Leave those of us who are still intent on living life alone!" Patterson was speechless. Did he really hide from the rest of the world after the plane crash? True, he spent most of his time either at school or with Todd, but did that really make his as pathetic as she'd made him sound? Without saying a word in rebuttal, Patterson stormed out leaving Stephanie to smile at one small victory.
MEANWHILE, AT THE GARDENS
When Lorraine entered the restaurant, she was quick to spot Trevor and Grace. She hesitated at the sight of them and cautiously stepped back to avoid being seen. She watched closely as Trevor put his hand on Grace's and then slowly leaned in to kiss her. As their lips met, Lorraine felt her heart drop and all the color drained from her face. Oh, my Lord! she thought as she grabbed a nearby table to steady herself. Not only is it another woman, it's Grace Davis! Oh, what kind of a fool I've been! Lorraine fought back tears and tried to shake off the shock of finding Grace and Trevor together. Lorraine knew she loved him and swore that he loved her, too. Now, as she saw Trevor in the arms of another woman, she wasn't too sure about his feelings. In fact, she wasn't too sure about anything! Unable to hold back the tears any longer, Lorraine ran from the room.
MEANWHILE, AT JILLIAN'S APARTMENT
"What exactly are you trying to say, Dane?" Jillian asked as she tried to decipher his cryptic warning. "What do you mean I don't know Reginald as well as I think I do?" He smirked smugly; knowing that he had planted a seed of doubt in her mind about her fiancé.
"Jillian, I was just wondering if we ever actually know everything there is to know about the people we care about." She grew uncomfortable as she listen to his words. She realized he was right. After all, Reginald didn't know anything about the past she shared with Dane. "Surely Reginald has some deep, dark secrets that he doesn't want anyone finding out....just as I'm sure you do, Jillian."
"I know everything about Reginald there is to know!" Despite her insistence, her nervousness was beginning to show. She fought to hide it, but Dane quickly noticed her subtle changes in demeanor and expression.
"Don't be too sure about that, Princess." He reached out and stroked her golden hair and smiled to himself when she didn't quickly pull away. "Remember, he doesn't have a clue about the love that we shared. Who's to say that he isn't hiding something as well? You know, secrets have a way of coming out. When they do, they have a nasty little habit of destroying everything that gets in their way." He smiled deviously and quietly left a visibly shaken Jillian alone to think about how not-so-perfect her perfect life was becoming.
MOMENTS LATER IN BAILY PARK
Lorraine wiped the tears from her eyes as she slumped down onto a park bench. How could Trevor have done this to her? She thought back on all the wonderful times they'd shared together: romantic dinners, New Year's Eve, dancing at the Riverview Club....
"Lorraine?" came the voice from behind her as she wiped another tear away. "Lorraine, honey, what's wrong?" She looked up to see Patterson standing beside her and she flew into his arms. "Are you okay?"
"O-oh, Patterson." She held onto him tightly as she began to sob again.
"Honey, tell me what's wrong." She swallowed hard and shook her head. She couldn't tell him. She felt embarrassed and foolish. "Okay, if you don't want to tell me, that's alright. Whatever it is, everything's gonna be okay. Everything's gonna be fine."
She looked up at him and saw his warm, comforting face. Lorraine realized that letting him go all those months ago had been a horrible mistake. Patterson would never have hurt her like Trevor had. Patterson had loved her and had been totally devoted to her. He would never have betrayed her. She looked him deep in the eyes. "Oh, Patterson," she muttered softly and hesitated slightly before placing a tentative kiss on his lips. Patterson wasn't prepared for such an action by Lorraine and began to pull away. His reluctance spurred Lorraine on further and she kissed him deeper.
Stephanie's words began to echo in Patterson's ears as the affects of Lorraine's kiss began to take hold. He'd loved her so much, but he knew he hadn't been able to give her everything she'd wanted or needed. Were things now different? What had changed? Patterson began to realize that, no matter what had happened between them in the past, in this moment Lorraine needed and wanted him more than anything else. Soon, he gave in and returned her kisses with equal passion. Neither one knew what the future would bring, but on this night and in this moment, they were all each other needed.
TO BE CONTINUED
Reginald catches a moment between Annabelle
For Now and Forever
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