A LITTLE LATER AT DANE'S APARTMENT

Dane Manchester343 Anderson Ln. Apt. #1, Albanyville, IL"Damn," Dane muttered as he pulled away from the kiss he was sharing with Sara.  He reached over and grabbed the ringing phone, but hesitated for a moment before picking up the receiver.  He sighed deeply as he looked at Sara who was visibly annoyed with this interruption to their romantic interlude.  "Hello?" he finally said, answering the disruptive caller.  "What do you want?  Well, Sara's here....oh, I see.  Oh?  Really?"  His mood began to quickly improve as the conversation continued.

"Honey, who is it?"  Sara moved closer to him in an attempt to hear what was being said on the other end of the conversation, but Dane cautiously pulled away from her.

"Umm...I'm a little busy at the moment."  He looked at Sara as she attempted to keep herself covered with the sheet.  "Well, that definitely is good news... especially after you totally messed everything up before.  Well...give me a few minutes.  Yes, you're right, that would be a perfect opportunity.  Okay, see you in a little while."  Dane hung up the phone and ran his hands through his hair.  Lightly, he slid his fingers across Sara's leg as he tried to find the right excuse.  "I-I have to go take care of something."

"Who was that?  Who was on the phone?"

"It's just something I have to go take care of.  I'll only be gone for a little while."  He climbed out of bed and began to get dressed quickly.  "It won't take long.  I'll be back soon.  Just stay here until I get back."  He turned to look at her and began to feel a little guilty for leaving her alone at such a tender moment between them.  However, this is way more important.  Stephanie had an idea how to use Reginald and Jillian's engagement party to separate them permanently.

Sara Summers"Alright," Sara sighed.  "I've got to study for that English Lit final anyway.  Do you still have your notes from last semester?"  Sara slowly slipped the straps of her gown back up over her shoulders and followed Dane into the living room.

"Yeah, they're in my desk.  Those old tests can be worth a little money to the right, underachieving freshman."  He smiled at her and caressed her cheek.  "Not that you're the least bit underachieving.  Besides, what you give me is worth much more than I could ever get from any of those stupid guys."  He kissed her deeply before turning away and heading for the door.  "I'll be back soon."

After Dane had left, Sara threw herself onto the couch and began thumbing through her English Lit book.  After a while, she heaved a deep sigh and threw the book to the floor.  She eyed the desk across the room and quickly decided that the old test would help her more than rereading 150 pages ever could.  Rummaging  through the desk, she began to grow frustrated when she found everything from receipts to half chewed pencils to old algebra assignments.  She pulled the drawer out further to get a better look at its contents.  With a solid thud, the entire drawer fell to the floor spewing papers and debris everywhere.  "Wonderful!" she muttered sarcastically before kneeling down to straighten up the mess.  As she sifted through the papers, she was quick to notice that one of them was a copy of the entrance exam for Albanyville University.  Sara looked at it closely and noticed all the answers were written in...but not in Dane's handwriting!  What in the world is Dane doing with a copy of the entrance exam? she thought to herself as she carefully looked at every page.  Her eyes grew wide when she saw the small handwritten note on the bottom of the last page...Don't be worried, you'll do fine.  I hope this helps you.  Agnes.  Sara smiled quietly to herself as a light of understanding went off in her head.  She realized exactly who Agnes was.  Quickly, Sara began to get dressed and prepared to pay a visit to the university's admissions office.


MEANWHILE, AT JOE'S CAFE

Patterson MonroeJoe's Cafe"So, you've been pretty quiet."  Patterson watched Lorraine careful as she sat slumped down in her seat.  Although he was almost through eating, she'd hadn't even attempted to pick up her sandwich.  "Is it Trevor?  Did something else happen between the two of you that you haven't been telling me?  You've moped around like this for weeks now."

"I think Trevor and I are over."  She swallowed hard and looked away quickly as she felt her eyes begin to tear.  She'd managed to push what she'd heard Trevor say in his sleep to the back of her mind, but she couldn't forget it.  "I know he's in love with someone else."  Patterson was shocked, but tried to hide his true feelings about the end of Lorraine's relationship with Trevor.

"Honey, how do you know he's in love with someone else?"

"H-he told me," she lowered her head and vacantly watched the steam drift off of her cup of freshly poured coffee.  "Well, not directly.  He...he..."

"Lorraine, tell me.  Tell me what happened.  You'll feel better if you get all of this off of your chest."  He reached across the table and grabbed her hand firmly.  She looked up at him and dried her eyes.  Taking a deep breath, she began to explain what had happened.

"Trevor came to see me.  I hadn't seen him in weeks.  He told me he'd been wrong to neglect me and wanted to make things up to me.  He told me how much he loved me."  She hesitated as she thought about the events that followed.  She still found it difficult to really believe what had happened.  "L-later, he was asleep and apparently dreaming.  He was talking to someone and telling them how much he loved them.  I thought he was talking to me!  H-he wasn't.  He was saying 'I love you' to someone else."

"Lorraine, how do you know it was someone else?"

Lorraine Blake"H-he called out her name!"  She threw her head into her hands and began to sob.  As much as Patterson didn't want Lorraine and Trevor's relationship to work out, his heart broke for her as he saw the deep emotional pain she was suffering.  The last thing that he'd ever wanted was for her to get hurt.  However, he'd always felt that that was exactly what would happen if she'd persisted in loving Trevor.

"W-who is she?" he asked cautiously.

"That's not important.  It doesn't matter.  All that matters is that he's not in love with me and probably never was!"  She looked up at Patterson and tried to force a smile at him.  "I know a few weeks ago I said something about us starting over.  We haven't really talked a lot about it since."

"Well, you've had a lot on your mind.  This whole mess with Trevor has gotten you torn to pieces."  He looked at her and wondered how anyone could even think to be so cruel to her.  "I would love nothing more than to put back together what he had, but I know it can't happen over night.  I know that you have to put him behind you first."

"Heaven help me, but I still love him.  Despite everything that's happened and everything that I know, I still want us to work out."  She silently remembered happier times with Trevor when she'd believed that her life was perfect and nothing in the world could hurt her.  "I honestly don't know if a future between you and me is possible, Patterson."  She watched him as his face fell.  "I-I'm not saying it's out of the question, though.  Just not right now.  This entire mess with Trevor is still fresh.  We have to take things slowly.  I-I don't think I would be able to stand experiencing such pain again."  He gave her hand another gentle squeeze and smiled at her warmly.

"I understand.  If something more does happen between us, we'll go just as slowly as you want.  The last thing I want is for you to be hurt."  Patterson meant every word.  He knew he'd have to wait for Lorraine to get over Trevor before they even had a remote chance of getting back together.  He also realized that maybe that would never happen.  He only wanted what was best for her...if that wasn't him, then he'd just have to accept it.  What was best for Lorraine was what was most important.


MEANWHILE, IN BAILY PARK

Dane ManchesterBaily Park"So, what's so important that you had to pull me away from my nice little afternoon with Sara?" Dane asked as he walked up behind Stephanie.  "You know, I'm still not happy with you after that little stunt you pulled with Jillian."

"Dane, I just knew it would work!  How was I supposed to know that she already knew he'd had an affair?"  Stephanie twisted her gold chain and chewed on her lip nervously as she eyed Dane closely.  She could tell he wasn't happy with her or her impetuous actions.

"But did you have to tell Jillian that you knew about me and her?"  He glared at her as he stood with his arms folded securely over his chest.  She lowered her head slowly.  She almost felt like a child being chastised by her father.  "Jillian knew that the only way you could have known about that was if I'd told you!  She's not stupid!  Surely she's realized that you and I are working together to break her and Reginald up."

"I'm sorry!  I've told you that a million times.  I didn't aim to bring you up, but she just made me so mad how she could just stand there acting so superior.  I just had to bust her bubble!"  She looked up at him through her long lashes and fluttered her eyelids gracefully.  "Besides, at least I know where I stand.  The mere knowledge of the past isn't going to cause her to dump Reginald.  I'm sure the same is true for you.  What you and Jillian had is in the past, too."  Dane squirmed a little uncomfortably at the thought of what had happened between him and Jillian being in the past.  "But, what if they both think that it's still going on in the present?"

"I've thought about that."  Dane grinned and rubbed his chin as he pondered the possibilities.  "But what does all of this have to do with their engagement party?  You said on the phone that you had an idea how to use this party to our advantage.  How are we gonna do that when heaven knows we won't get an invitation?"  Stephanie let out a laugh as a grin spread across her face.

Stephanie Lake"I don't know how you'll get into the party, but I've been invited!"  She watched his expression and was very satisfied with the look of surprise that registered on his face.

"How in the world did you managed that?  Reginald and Jillian can't stand the site of you!"

"Well....I've been dating Douglas Davis for the last few weeks.  It gives me something to do."  She twisted a tendril of hair around her finger as she walked to a nearby bench to sit down.  "After all, I can't spend all my time worrying about Reginald and the ice princess."

"And?  Well...get on with it..."

"And since Douglas is Charles Callison's attorney, of course he got an invitation to the party.  And naturally he needed a date.  Since he's been dating me, of course I was the logical choice."  Dane grew rather smug as he thought of all the possibilities and quickly sat down beside her on the bench.

"Excellent!  If Jillian thinks that you and Reggie were still involved, she'll drop him in an instant!"  Dane paused while he thought of what Jillian's reaction would be and how he would just "conveniently" be there to help her pick up the pieces.  His face quickly clouded over when he realized that there was no way he could be there to help Jillian through the fall out.  "Now, how do you propose to get me into that party to witness all of this?"

"Well, Dane, I guess that's just something you're gonna have to figure out for yourself."  She smiled at him and patted his leg before rising to leave.  "I've got my plan in place and I've got my way into that party.  Your part is up to you.  I can't do everything for you, can I?"  As Dane watched her slowly walk away, his mind began to whirl as he tried to think about how he could possibly crash this party.