For Now and Forever
A FEW EVENINGS LATER, AT LORRAINE'S APARTMENT
"You're awfully quiet," Lorraine finally spoke. The silence that had filled the room since he'd arrived was almost unbearable. She watched him closely as he paced around the living room. "Something on your mind?" Though she hadn't meant them to, her words came out quite sarcastic. Secretly, she wondered if his head was once again filled with thoughts of Grace.
He paused for a moment and looked at her. Taking in her gentle beauty, he ran his hands through his hair and wondered where to start. He truly didn't want to hurt her. She had become so special to him. Yet, he could no longer deny the truth. He was most definitely in love with Grace Davis. No matter what the future might hold for him and Grace, he couldn't continue to deceive Lorraine. "I...I...I don't know what to say," he finally muttered.
"Well, go on! Just spit it out!" She knew what was coming. She felt it in the deepest corners of her heart. "Don't just keep wearing a hole in the carpet. Stop right there and tell me! You came here tonight to tell me something. Why put it off? Why prolong this...this...this mess?" He stopped in his tracks, swallowed hard, and inhaled deeply.
"L-Lorraine.....I...." He didn't know where to start. He looked away to avoid seeing the hurt in her eyes that she tried so unsuccessfully to hide. You have to do it! You have to tell her. It's the only right thing to do, he thought. "Lorraine, you are probably one of the most special people I've ever met in my entire life. Gee...I think this has to be the hardest thing I've ever done. Um...I've been so unfair to you. You deserve so much better than me. I...I...I'm not in love with you. I thought I was once, but I've come to realize that I'm not." He stopped for a moment and watched her slump down into a chair. He approached her tentatively and saw how vacant her eyes had become. He reached out to hold her, to comfort her as he'd done so many times before, but he pulled away. He was afraid that would hurt her even more.
"Is it someone else?"
"That's not important. Whether there is another woman involved or not, that has no bearing on how I feel. I really think I had these feelings before and I was just too blind to see them. You and I could never work out. It's not your fault. It's all mine! It's my fault. I can't love you the way you need to be loved."
"Why, Trevor, why?" She looked up at him and could no longer hold back her tears. "What's so awful about me that you can't love me? A-am I not pretty enough? A-am I just too plain?"
"No! Why in the world would you even think such things?" He was stunned by her questions. Trevor thought that Lorraine was one of the most beautiful girls that he knew. That wasn't it at all. "Honey, you're gorgeous! B-but sometimes beauty isn't enough. Look, I know it's hard to explain, but I've been in love once before. I was in high school. Whenever I thought about her, my insides turned to mush. I couldn't explain it." He rested his hand gently on her shoulder hoping to give her some kind of support and comfort.
"She...uh...she and her family moved away." He lowered his face into his hands as he thought about Maddy Forsythe and the sweet, innocent love that they'd shared. "I...I had always hoped that she'd come back to me."
"Did she?" Lorraine peered at him through narrow eyes as she waited for an answer.
"Um...no." His voiced had softened to almost a mutter as he turned away from her. "S-she died a couple of years ago. I-I never got a chance the live the life that I'd wanted with her. That's why I can't keep seeing you."
"Because of some dead girl?" Her voice grew more forceful as she rose from her seat. "How can you expect me to believe that you can't love me because you're holding on to the memory of some dead childhood sweetheart?"
"It's not just that. It's not just Maddy. I know how I felt with her. What I felt was true love. I-I don't feel that with you." He grabbed Lorraine and pulled her close to him. As he wrapped his arms around her, he realized he needed to hold her as much to comfort himself as to comfort her. "I tried. I really tried to feel that way about you...but I can't. I finally realized that I probably never would. If I keep letting you believe that I do, it wouldn't be fair to you. It's not right!"
"Just go." She pulled away from him and flung herself onto the couch.
"I'm sorry, Lorraine, I'm really sorry." He turned away to hide his shame for the hurt he'd caused her. When he looked at her again he knew there was nothing left to say. Silently, he walked out the door and left her alone. As the sound of the closing door echoed through the apartment, Lorraine's tears began to flow unstoppably. She knew this was coming. She knew he'd leave her. But, knowing all that, why did it still hurt so bad?
MEANWHILE, AT THE CALLISON HOME
"So, how's this big party coming along?" Charles walked over and sat down on the sofa by Francis. She looked up coolly from the evening edition of The Daily Post that she'd been reading and tried to muster up the requisite enthusiasm to respond.
"Oh, everything's set. The only thing left to do is mail out just a few more invitations." She folded the paper neatly and laid it on the coffee table before turning to face him. She carefully examined him and noted every line on his face and the slight dusting of gray hair at his temples. They'd been so young when they first met and fell in love. Was that what was wrong? Did he not have a chance to finish sowing his oats? Did the pressure to marry the right girl and start a family to carry on the Callison tradition force him into a situation with a wife he didn't really want.
"Honey, is something wrong?" He reached out for her hand and was quick to notice that she grew tense when they touched. "You've been excited about this party for weeks, but now you seem a little cavalier about it."
"I guess it's just a little depressing that all the planning's over." She slowly pulled her hand away and turned to gaze at the empty fireplace. On the mantle sat a picture from their wedding. Wistfully, Francis thought about how happy she'd been that day. She'd found the person she was going to spend the rest of her life with and she was going to have his children. "Kind of like right after Christmas is over. You look forward to it all for weeks; but then what do you look forward to when it's over?" She felt the words catch in her throat as she thought of the odd parallels to her own marriage.
"Well, if it will help you out, I've already delivered the invitations to everyone of importance at the office."
"Who did you invite?" she muttered.
"Oh, just all of the main executives....Douglas," he paused. "Annabelle..."
"Annabelle?" Francis turned to stare at him. "Why Annabelle? She's only Douglas' secretary! She's no one of importance."
"I know. I hadn't intended on inviting her, but she really wants to go and she seems so excited about it." He rubbed his temples lightly as he slowly felt a headache coming on. "I-I didn't know how to tell her 'no'. I figured there'd be no harm in giving her an invitation."
"Well, if you think it's important enough to have her at this party and you don't care how Reginald might feel, you go right ahead!" Francis rose to her feet and crossed her arms across her chest as she glared at him. "T-that wretched daughter of hers has done nothing but try to cause trouble for him and Jillian! Why, Annabelle's probably behind that entire mess. I bet she even put Stephanie up to it! Annabelle Lake is nothing but a trampy gold digger! If you want to invite her and completely ruin this party, you go right ahead....but you'll do it without my blessing!"
Charles looked at his wife with shock over her outburst and watched her angrily storm from the room. As his mind began to whirl with a myriad of thoughts of Francis and Annabelle and Reginald and Jillian, he rubbed the back of his neck to relieve the tension. Sighing, he leaned back onto the sofa and lit a cigarette.
MEANWHILE, AT THE LAKE APARTMENT
"I cannot believe you managed to talk Charles into giving you an invitation to that party!" Stephanie laid on the couch and laughed before throwing her movie magazine to the floor and sitting up. "How did you do it, Momma? How did you talking him into inviting you?"
"Haven't you learned by now, dear? I can talk a man into just about anything!" Annabelle spread her arms dramatically as she smiled from ear to ear. "All it took was a little flutter of my eyes and me telling him how I, oh, so much wanted to go! I just never get to go out and do anything. And this would be such a wonderful opportunity for my niece Sara to get out and meet the right kind of people...." She hesitated for a moment before continuing. "It wasn't easy to get three invitations."
"Three?" Stephanie looked up at her mother inquisitively.
"Of course, silly, one for me, one for Sara, and one for you!"
"You actually got Charles Callison to give me an invitation to Reginald and Jillian's engagement party?" Her eyes grew wide with shock. "Surely he already knows what kind of utter fool I made of myself at Jillian's! I bet that little snot ran all over town the next day telling everyone how she faced me down."
"Well, if he knows anything about your behavior, he didn't let on that he did." Annabelle paused to light a cigarette before strolling across the room leaving her long dressing gown to drift along behind her. "I'm sure she didn't say a word. That arrogant little bore must have felt too embarrassed by Reginald's betrayal to even want to think about it, let alone tell anyone! Now, darling, why you didn't tell me about your little fling with him sooner, I'll never know! If I'd have know months ago, it could've made my job of getting you two together so much easier!"
"Mother, I didn't tell you because it really was none of your business!"
"Of course it's my business if my daughter is sleeping with one of the most eligible bachelors in town."
"He's not a bachelor! He's engaged to be married to that witch Jillian." Stephanie quickly began to grow irritated with her mother's insistence on knowing every detail of her life. She began to regret finally telling her the truth about the past that they'd shared.
"He wasn't tied to anyone then." Annabelle looked at her daughter sternly as she sat down beside her. "If you'd played your cards right, this party could have been for you and not her."
"Mother, I'm beginning to think this entire Reginald mess is a lost cause." Stephanie slumped back into her seat and slowly twisted a strand of hair around her finger. "I've been dating Douglas for weeks now. I really don't need that invitation you got for me because I'm going to the party with him. He's really a wonderful man. Maybe I should just give up on Reginald and try to have a relationship with Douglas."
"Oh, nonsense! You're being silly." Annabelle threw up her hands and let out a hearty laugh. "Douglas is a wonderful man, and all, but he's no where near the class of people that Reginald is. Reginald is a much better choice for you. Now, you listen to me, this party is the perfect opportunity to come between Jillian and Reginald and separate them once and for all!"
Stephanie thought about how those were her original intentions when Douglas first had asked her to be his date. However, she'd been thinking about everything that could go wrong. What if she was only misleading herself to think she even stood a remote chance with Reginald? What if her plan could turn into an even bigger disaster than the one before? "Momma, I really don't think..."
"Hush!" Annabelle pressed her index finger to her daughter's lips to silence her. "Now, you listen to me. I have a plan that will ensure that we wind up with Reginald and Charles at the end of the night..."
MEANWHILE, AT JILLIAN'S APARTMENT
"Are you getting nervous about this party?" Reginald asked as he lightly rubbed Jillian's shoulders. "You and my mother have put a lot of work into all of this?"
"Well, it's not so much as nervousness about the party itself. My entire family is going to be there. You've never met my father. He can be a little, well..." She thought about how to describe the man in an accurate, yet flattering way. "My father can be very domineering and opinionated. If he doesn't like something or he doesn't approve, he won't hesitate to make his voice known. And Judith...well...my sister has always been the perfect little daddy's girl. She never got into trouble. Well, at least none that my parents found out about."
"Honey, I'm sure your family's fine." He wrapped his arms around her and laughed at her misguided nervousness. "I'm sure they'll be a complete joy. I can't wait to meet them." Jillian looked up at him a grimaced.
"I wonder if Judith's husband is coming with her." She rested her head on Reginald's shoulder and enjoyed the comfort that his arms brought. "Father thinks he hung the moon, but he can be quite difficult. I never really cared for him despite the glowing approval he gets from my parents. He can be so crass when they're not around. Honestly, I don't understand how Judith can stand to be married to him." Jillian thought for a minute and realized how much Dane Manchester reminded her of her brother-in-law. "Now, she's expecting his baby! I'm not sure I'll ever understand her."
"Don't worry, honey, everything will be fine." He pulled away and looked at her reassuringly. "Now, we've got to get to the Grand Sunset Room to meet with Jasper about those last minute details. I really don't want to keep him waiting. I'm sure you know how particular that man can be."
Jillian laughed as she thought of prim Jasper St. John. He was always putting on airs of being way more important than he actually was. Although he ran The Gardens and, consequently, the Grand Sunset Room, it didn't mean he was part of the upper echelon the community. However, it was impossible to convince him that he wasn't one of the main members of Albanyville's elite. "I really don't feel like dealing with him. He can be so...so..."
"Yes, I know," Reginald laughed. "But since this party's going to be in the Sunset Room, we have to deal with him. Now, we better get going. We don't want to keep him waiting." Jillian's shoulders slumped in dread as they headed for the door. She silently prayed that Jasper didn't wear on her last nerve before the evening was over.
MEANWHILE, AT THE WISHING WELL
"So, what have you been doing to get Reginald away from Jillian?" Dane asked before taking a large bite out of his sandwich. "Surely you've been working over time lately trying to insinuate yourself into his life."
"Um, actually, no." Stephanie sipped on her cherry soda and slumped down into her seat. "I've been way too busy with graduation and everything."
"How does it feel to be out of that slum of a high school?" As he talked to her, he casually flirted with an attractive blonde who was sitting across the room. The blonde smiled at him coyly and he greeted her glances with his own smug grin.
"Dane, it really wasn't that bad. Actually, I think I might really miss it." She thought for a moment of all the dances and parties she'd attended during her senior year. Now that she was finally out, she realized that adulthood was going to be a lot more complicated than high school ever was.
"What? All I've heard about for months now is how you couldn't wait to get out of there!" The blonde strolled by him and he turned his head to follow her with his eyes.
"Well, people can change their minds about things, you know?"
"Okay, whatever you say." Dane turned back to face Stephanie and stared at her with eyes full of seriousness and determination. "Now, what have you been doing to worm your way between Reginald and Jillian?"
"Dane, I've been thinking about that. I've tried to get him back and nothing's worked. I-I've been thinking that maybe this is all a lost cause. Why should I be wasting my time on him when he's made it perfectly clear that he doesn't want me?" She began to nervously drum her fingers on the table. "Look, I've been seeing Douglas Davis for a few weeks now. Maybe I should just cut my losses with Reginald and try to work on something more serious with Douglas."
"You will not back out of this!" Dane leaned across the table and glared at her. "I have worked too hard to get Jillian back for you to just give up. I need you to get through to him so I can get her!"
"And what about Sara?" Stephanie snapped back. "What about her? She loves you with all of her heart and you just want to throw her away like garbage! If you manage to get Jillian back, and that's a pretty big 'if', what do you plan on doing with Sara?"
"Look, Steph, your cousin's a big girl and can take care of herself. No matter what happens between us, she'll be okay. She's a tough girl."
"If you have no plans for a future with her, you better tell her now before she gets any ideas about having some kind of life with you."
"Sara knows that we have no future! I've told her that. I've told her that I'm not the type to settle down with one girl. She knows she's not the only one!" Dane began to lower his voice when he realized that a few of the other patrons were looking their direction. "She knows."
Stephanie watched him as he leaned back in his seat and folded his arms across his chest. She began to think about all the talks she'd shared with Sara. Sara was always talking about how she planned on marrying Dane someday. To listen to Sara, it was pretty much a done deal. She truly believed that a marriage to Dane would eventually happen. Stephanie began to realize that she had to get Dane away from Sara before he hurt her. If that meant fixing it so Dane could get back with Jillian, than so be it. Whether Stephanie managed to win back Reginald or not no longer seem quite as important. Now, Stephanie had to separate Reginald and Jillian to protect her cousin from the eventual heartbreak that loving Dane would most definitely cause.
"You will not back out on me!" Dane reached across the table and grabbed her arm forcefully. She flinched at the pain caused by his grip and glared back at him.
"I'm not backing out on you," she muttered. "Trust me, I think I want you with Jillian more than you do." Silently, Stephanie began to wonder if getting involved with Dane Manchester had been a good idea.
MEANWHILE, AT JOE'S CAFE
"Hi, Trevor," Grace called out as she saw him sitting alone at a corner table. "I just got my break and thought I'd come over for a bite to eat. Since school's been out, they seem to want to work me all the time. That's okay, though, I need the money for school in the fall...." Her ramblings trailed off as she noticed Trevor's silence and solemn expression. "Hey, are you okay?"
"I don't know." he muttered. His head began to hang even lower as he re-twisted his straw into yet another knot. He let out a deep sigh and pitched the mangled straw across the table. "Well, I did it." He raised his head slightly to see her reaction.
"Did what?" She sat down in the empty chair and slid over next to him. "Trevor, what's wrong?"
"I told Lorraine. I-I told her that I wasn't in love with her and we couldn't see each other any more." He rested his head in his hands and rubbed his forehead as if he were trying to erase the memory of Lorraine's anguished face from his mind. "Oh, god, I feel so bad. You know I really didn't want to hurt her."
"I know, I know." She gently laid a hand on his arm in a silent show of support. "I really can't picture you ever wanting to hurt anyone. I know you really care about her...even if you're not in love with her. That's just the kind of man you are."
"A-and that's not the reason I feel so bad. I'm actually relieved that the truth is finally out. I feel horrible that I've caused her so much pain, but I still feel like a huge weight's been lifted off my shoulders. I'm glad it's over, but I feel terrible because of it."
"Look, it was for the best. If you couldn't love her the way she needed to be loved, you had to set her free. You had to do it to keep her from being hurt even worse. Now she can find someone who can be everything she needs them to be. You did the right thing." Suddenly, he looked up at her again and their eyes met. An uncomfortable Grace swallowed hard and quickly turned away.
"I know you're right, but I still feel bad for her." Seeing Grace's discomfort, Trevor decided he needed to change the subject. Too many of their recent conversations had been about Lorraine. Now that that part of his life was over, he needed to focus on winning Grace's heart. Dwelling on the sorrows of the past would not be the way to accomplish that goal. "Um....so...are you going to my brother Reginald's engagement party?"
"Well, actually, no. Of course, Douglas is going, but I wasn't invited. I'm just the kid sister after all." She laughed softly as she nervously played with the tiny locket that hung around her neck.
"Well...would you like to go?" He shuffled his feet on the floor under the table as he gnawed on his lower lip. "Since your brother is going it won't be like you won't know anyone there. Patterson will be there and I think I heard Father say that Annabelle is going. He said that she was bringing her niece Sara."
Sara Summers is going to be there? Grace thought to herself. If Sara's going to be at the party, surely Dane will be there, too! She quietly remembered her vivid dream of a grand ball where she danced under the stars with Dane and he professed his love for her. Had it been a premonition?
"I-I don't know," she finally answered. She found herself again struck by Trevor's eyes. She really wanted to go to this party, but was uncertain whether she should go with Trevor considering his feelings for her. She didn't want to lead him on.
"I...well...since I'm not with Lorraine anymore, I'm kinda stuck without a date. But, it won't be like a real date. I promise! We can just go as friends." His hands once again found the stray straw and he began to awkwardly untie and re-knot it.
"Well...if it's just going to be as friends..." She thought again of Dane and what a great opportunity the party would be to see him. "I guess I could be your date. Yes, Trevor, I'll go to the engagement party with you."
Trevor exhaled slowly and smiled. "This is going to be the greatest night Albanyville has ever seen. This will be a night we'll never forget." He reached out and held her hand. He knew this party would be the beginning of something wonderful between them.
A LITTLE LATER, IN 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 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...."
"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."
She 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."
"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
"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.
"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
"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."
"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. "Momma 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 your mother is the one who got the invitation, why are you so concerned about finding a dress?"
"Mother 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, Momma 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.
TO BE CONTINUED
The big party begins!
For Now and Forever
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