A LITTLE LATER, IN THE GRAND SUNSET ROOM

The Grand Sunset Room"Mr. Callison, everything is taken care of.  There is no need for you to worry.  The flowers, the caterer, the orchestra....everything is set."

Reginald CallisonReginald slowly looked around the ballroom that would come alive with all the people who would gather to celebrate his and Jillian's engagement.  Jillian held on to his arm and began to envision the room completely decorated with flowers and their guests dressed in their most glamorous gowns.  "Mr. St. John, I'm sure you have everything taken care of, but you can understand my nervousness.  This is going to be the biggest night of our lives...well at least until the wedding.  I just don't want anything to go wrong."

"Oh, don't worry!  We have a complete staff who will make sure that nothing happens to disrupt your and Miss Stokes happiness on this most glorious occasion."  Jasper St. John waved his arms wildly as he walked toward the bar.  "Now, the open bar will be set up here....and over there by that far wall will be the orchestra.  There's plenty of room for everyone to dance and enjoy themselves.  It's a good thing that you're throwing this party in June.  The weather should be perfect to open up the terrace for guests to enjoy the evening under the stars."

"So, you're sure you've got the menu for the evening squared away?" Jillian asked as she tried to drag the conversation back on target.  "Lobster Thermidor for the main course, the Waldorf Salad, the Smoked Trout Canapés...."

Jasper St. John"I assure you, Miss Stokes, I have everything taken care of.  Honestly, you act as if I've never taken care of an event such as this!"  Jasper rolled his eyes as he chattered away.  Jillian simply glared at his dramatics.  "I'll have you know that I've arranged some of the most lavish affairs for the most elite members of Boston society.  Granted, I haven't had much of a reason to plan things so lavishly since I came to this...to this town, but I'll assure you that this will be one event that you'll treasure for the rest of your lives."

"Well, Mr. St. John, I understand your credentials, but..."

"And further more..."  Jasper was cut off by the shrill ringing of the telephone.  "Excuse me."  As he chattered away into the telephone.  Jillian let out a heavy sigh and turned to Reginald.

"If we make it through this party without me strangling that man, then that'll be what makes this party a success," she muttered under hear breath.

"Mr. Callison, Miss Stokes, I hope you'll forgive me, but I've got a very important matter to take care of."  Jasper turned on his heel and briskly walked toward the elevator.  "I'll leave you two to look around and check out the accommodations that we have already set up."

"But..."  Jillian called out just as the elevator doors closed behind him.  "But is he sure that the orchestra knows when to be here?"

"Honey, he's right.  Everything's going to be fine."  Reginald held her in his arms and slowly stroked her blonde hair.  "You and Mother have been working for months on this.  I doubt there's anything he can do to ruin this party.  You said yourself that you had all the plans set.  Nothing's going to happen to ruin this night."

Jillian StokesShe looked up at him with a glimmer of doubt in her eyes.  "I wish I could believe that.  What I can't believe is that Stephanie Lake is actually going to be at my engagement party!  How in the world did that little witch manage to con Douglas into inviting her?"

"Apparently, they've been seeing each other."  Reginald smiled as he thought about how good it felt to know that Stephanie had someone else to obsess over.  "And if she's seeing Douglas, then that must mean she's finally given up on her misguided dream that one day she and I'll get back together."

"I don't know.  I don't trust her.  I still think she's plotting something.  Girls like that don't just give up.  You know she'd drop him in an instant if you'd even just give her the time of day!"

"But I'm not going to."  He held her tighter to reassure her of his devotion.  "Actually, I think Douglas is a perfect match for Stephanie."

"You do?"

"Of course.  He's a really nice guy, but he's never been that forceful with women."  He paused to chuckle.  "Stephanie should be able to just walk all over him and get anything she wants.  They're perfect together!"

Jillian laughed at the thought of Douglas being at Stephanie's beck and call, but her thoughts quickly returned to the fact that Stephanie was going to be at the party.  Despite Reginald's reassurances, Jillian still wasn't convinced that she had given up on him.  Jillian knew that Stephanie still had a few tricks up her sleeve and silently prayed that she wouldn't pull them out at the party.


MEANWHILE, AT LORRAINE'S APARTMENT

Lorraine Blake98 River Rd Apt. #1, Albanyville, IL"Oh, go away!" Lorraine shouted through her tears as a knock came at the door.

"Lorraine, honey, it's me!" came the voice from the other side.  "It's Patterson!  Open up!  What's wrong?"

She forced herself off of the sofa where she'd lain sobbing for most of the evening and went to let Patterson in.  One look at her was more than enough to tell him that she was in a very dire emotional state.

"Oh, honey, what's wrong?"  He wrapped his arms around her and held her close.  She rested her head on his shoulder and relished in the comfort that his arms provided.  He stepped back and lifted her chin so that he could see her red rimmed eyes.  "Lorraine, dear, what's going on?  Did something happen between you and Trevor?"

"There is no 'me and Trevor' anymore!"  She tried to swallow back her tears when she felt them begin to well up again.  "It's over!  He left me!"

"Oh, Lorraine."  He again wrapped his arms around her as she began to sob. He slowly led her over to the couch and sat down beside her as she remained cocooned in the deep comfort of his arms.  "Tell me what happened?  What did that man do to you?"

"Oh, Patterson, he didn't do anything except tell me the truth."  She took a handkerchief and gently blotted her eyes.  "He told me the truth that I've known for a long time now....I just didn't want to face it."

"What did he say?"

"He told me he wasn't in love with me and didn't think he was capable of being in love with me.  He told me that he was being horribly unfair to me to keep leading me to believe that we could have a future.  He told me he was setting me free to find someone who deserved to be loved by me."

What Lorraine was saying was like music to Patterson's ears.  He felt terrible that Trevor had hurt her so badly, but he couldn't help but also feel excited at the same time.  He had longed for the day when Lorraine would finally be free to accept the love that he wanted to give her.  Now that day had come, but it was clear that it had come with a severe emotional price for her.

Patterson Monroe"He must be out of his mind not to see what a magnificent woman you are."  He held her tighter and inhaled her fresh floral scent.  "But, it's better to find out about him now rather then later.  It might be difficult to see now, but this is truly for the best.  If he can't love you like you need to be loved, he never deserved you!"

"Oh, logically, I know all that, but it still hurts.  W-what's so wrong with me that he can't love me?  Am I not pretty enough?  Am I not exciting enough?"

"Oh, gosh, no!  Lorraine, you're the most beautiful and thrilling woman I've ever known.  If he can't see that, then Trevor's a fool."  Patterson hesitated for a moment as he watched her closely.  He could see that his words were starting to sink in as her tears stopped.  "He never deserved you."

"N-no, he didn't!"  Lorraine began to feel a drop of her spirit returning.  "If he can't love me, then it's his loss...not mine!  I'll survive Trevor Callison...I'll make it through....thanks to you."

"L-Lorraine," he stammered nervously, "please give me another chance to make you happy.  I know we once talked about starting over, but Trevor was in the way.  He's not between us anymore.  Give us another chance."  Her silence disturbed him.  He had hoped for an enthusiastic response.  When none came, Patterson began to worry that there would never be a second chance for them.

"Y-yes, Patterson," she finally muttered as she looked up at him.  "Yes, it's time for us to have a fresh start...a new beginning.  I-I've been so horrible to you.  I took the love you freely offered me for granted.  I am so sorry for that.  I can see now that leaving you was one of the worst mistakes I've made in my entire life.  Oh, what a fool I've been."

"Lorraine, will you be my date to Reginald and Jillian's party?  I-I know Trevor will be there, but it would mean so much to me to have you on my arm as my escort."  He gently held her hands in his as he gazed deeply into her eyes.

"I don't care if he's there or not!  I'd be honored to be your date.  This will be the start of a whole new life for us...a life together!"

Patterson again took her in his arms and kissed her passionately.  "You have no idea how happy you've made me.  I must be the luckiest guy in the world."

Silently, Lorraine vowed to show Trevor that she didn't need him.  She could have a man who loved her.  She vowed to show him that his callous betrayal of her did not destroy her world.  She would prove that, in the end, it would be Trevor who had lost everything.


MEANWHILE, AT DANE'S APARTMENT

Sara Summers343 Anderson Ln. Apt. #1, Albanyville, IL"Oh, these dresses are so beautiful!" Sara exclaimed as she paced around the apartment flipping through the pages of a fashion magazine.

"You and Stephanie sure do spend a lot of time looking at a lot of fancy clothes neither one of you can afford," Dane muttered as he looked up from the evening edition of The Daily Post that he'd been reading.  Sara stopped in her tracks and eyed him closely as her expressions became more serious.

"Dane, I've been meaning to talk to you about something."

"Okay, well, what is it?"  He folded the newspaper neatly and sat it on the table beside his chair.  He looked at her with interest as he waited for her to speak.

"Well, it's about Stephanie, actually."

Dane felt his heart begin to beat faster.  Surely Stephanie didn't go running her mouth about my plans for Jillian, he thought.  But if she had, Sara would surely have mentioned it before now.  "What about Stephanie?"

"Well, she's planning on starting Albanyville University in the fall, but she hasn't taken her entrance exam yet."  Sara watched him to see what his reaction would be to her mention of the exam.  She was disappointed when the topic didn't appear to faze him.  "And, well, she's pretty nervous about it.  I know my exam was pretty though.  I did really well, though.  That's how I got my scholarship.  I was just wondering if your entrance exam was just as difficult.  You know they change them every year?"

"Um...well...my exam really wasn't that hard."  Dane didn't like thinking about the lengths he had gone to to gain admission into AU.  He had been ill prepared for the exam thanks to a heavy summer of partying and carousing.  He thanked the heavens that Agnes had been around to help him out.  "I actually did really well on it.  I'm sure that Steph has nothing to worry about.  Even though she tries to hide it, she really is a bright girl.  So, why are you so obsessed with that magazine tonight?  You've barely put it down since you got here."

"Oh, I have to find the perfect dress to wear."  She tried to hide her disappointment that Dane hadn't been more forthcoming about his cheating.  "I don't want to be underdressed compared to all of those society girls."

Dane Manchester"What in the world are you talking about?"  

"Oh, didn't I tell you?"  She strolled over to him and playfully ran her fingers across his shoulder.  "Aunt Annabelle got an invitation to attend the big engagement party for Reginald Callison and his fiancée Jillian."

"Really?"  Dane's interest was definitely peaked.  "Well, if Annabelle is the one who got the invitation, why are you so concerned about finding a dress?"

"She actually managed to get Charles Callison to give her three invitations!  She got one for herself and one each for both me and Stephanie.  Isn't that exciting?  I'm gonna get to go to the biggest party of the year!"  She threw her arms around him in excitement, but Dane was calmly thinking about how to use this announcement to his advantage.

"But Stephanie was already invited by Douglas.  She's going as his date.  What's going to happen to that extra invitation?"

"Oh, didn't I tell you?"  She smiled at him coyly.  "Since Steph doesn't need that invitation now, Annabelle said I could use it to bring a date!  Of course, you're the obvious choice!"  Sara kissed him lightly on the cheek and a huge smile spread across Dane's face.

"Oh, my lord, that's wonderful!"  He tried to hide his supreme glee, but realized that it would be nearly impossible to do so.  "I guess I better be checking on getting my tux cleaned.  This is going to be one ritzy event."

"And I have to get busy looking for a dress."  Sara left his side and picked up her magazine again and began to pace the room as she looked at the pictures of the beautiful dresses.  "I hope Lerner's has some gowns like some of these."  Sara's idle prater quickly became useless to Dane as a smirk covered his face.

So, I'm going to this party, after all! he thought as he rubbed his hands together.  Stephanie and I are going to both be there to make sure that the happy couple doesn't  stay happy for long.  This is definitely going to one party to remember for a long time to come.  He grinned slyly to himself when he realized exactly how close he was to getting exactly what he wanted....Jillian all to himself.



 


NEXT TIME

The big party begins!
Reginald meets Jillian's family for the first time and learns that they have many secrets.
Francis' mother notices problems in her daughter's marriage.




 


produced/written by G. Matthew Smith

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