THE GRAND SUNSET ROOM

Jillian StokesThe Grand Sunset Room"How could you!"  Jillian glared at Reginald.  "How could you just tell the entire world about me and Dane?  You've aired every bit of our dirty laundry in front of the entire city!  I'll never be able to hold my head up with dignity again!"

"But, Jillian, now there are no more secrets!"  He reached out for her, but found himself disappointed when she quickly moved away.  "With everything out in the open, Dane and Stephanie have nothing they can hold over our heads."

"I have never been so embarrassed in my entire life!"

"Jillian, there's no reason for you to be embarrassed.  You haven't done anything wrong!  This is all because of Dane and Steph."  He gently took her hand into his and pulled her closer.  "There's nothing that either one of them can do now to destroy what we have.  I told you, if we're going to make it, we have to have total honesty."

"I agree, but do we have to share that honesty with everyone we know?"  She fixed her icy gaze on him.  "I-I'll never be able to show my face in this town again!"

Reginald Callison"Honey, you're over reacting!  Everyone knows we've done nothing wrong.  If anyone is held up to public scrutiny, it will be me not you!  I just wanted everything out in the open."

"Well, you've gotten everything out in the open!" she snapped.  "But was clearing the air worth the price of my dignity?"  She quickly turned away from him.

"Jillian..." Reginald pleaded.

"I-I don't think this is such a good idea."  The words caught in her throat.  "After everything that's happened tonight, I'm not sure that this marriage is going to happen."


Charles CallisonFrancis Callison"Now, honey, you just stay right here and calm down."  Francis looked at Charles closely as he sat down at the bar.  "I know that this night hasn't exactly turned out like we planned, but you can't let yourself get worked up over what that buffoon Nelson said."

"I know," he muttered.  "But I refuse to let him talk about my family like that!"

"Just calm down."  Francis sighed and glanced around the room.  "Stay here and pull yourself together.  I need to go find that errant daughter of ours."

"Maggie?"

"Yes.  We haven't seen her since earlier and it's getting late."  She looked as her watch.  "It's time for that young lady to go home."  Francis slowly walked away from Charles and began her search for her daughter.  She was very disturbed to find Maggie locked in conversation with a couple of older, college boys.  "Maggie!  I think it's time you went home."

"Mother!" Maggie replied through clinched teeth.  "Can't you see I'm in the middle of a conversation?"

"Exactly my point."  Francis carefully directed her daughter away from the young men.  "It's almost eleven and it's time for you to get home.  It's entirely too late for you to be out."

Maggie Callison"But, Momma!  You're treating me like a child!"  Maggie stomped her foot and stuck out her lower lip.

"You are a child."

"I am not!  I'm not going home!  I'm staying!"

Mary Albany"I think your mother's right, Maggie."  Mary spoke up as she approached her granddaughter from behind.  "Now, my driver is downstairs and he is more than able to take you home.  Just let me call the lobby...."

"No!  I'm not going!"

"Maggie..." Mary gave her a look of warning and then turned to Francis.

"Maggie, considering everything that's happened here tonight, this is no place for you."  Francis took an authoritative stance.  "You're going home and that's final!"

Maggie's shoulders slumped as she pouted.  She just had to think of a way to stay at this party.  She just knew something else was going to happen and she didn't want to miss a thing!


Reginald Callison"Surely you can't mean that!"  Reginald grabbed Jillian by the shoulders and pulled her to him.  "You can't say that our marriage is a bad idea!  I love you.  I love you more than anything else in the world."

"But, with everything that's happened, I don't know."  Jillian sighed as she shook her head.  "Maybe Father is right."

"No!"  He held her tightly and stoked her hair.  "I wasn't planning on announcing everything to the world, but Dane and Stephanie made me so angry.  How could they stand there and act so innocent after everything that they've done?  How could they make me out to be the villain?  I had to set the record straight.  I had to let everyone know exactly what kind of people they are."

Jillian Stokes"Oh, Reginald, I just don't know!"

"I love you, Jillian," he said softly.  "Please don't say you don't want to be my wife.  Please forgive me for what I've done.  I don't think I could bear it if I lost you."

"I don't know," she muttered.  "I don't know if I can forgive you for this.  I'm sorry, but I just don't know."


THE GRAND SUNSET ROOM

Stephanie LakeThe Grand Sunset Room"Oh, Douglas, there you are!" Stephanie cried out as she threw herself into his arms.  "Oh, I need you so much."

Douglas stood motionless as she wrapped her arms around him.  He looked down at her coldly and quickly pushed her away.  "I don't have anything to say to you."

"Surely you don't believe all of those awful things Dane said!"  Her hand flew up to her chest as she gasped.  "They were all lies!"

"Are you trying to tell me you weren't out to get Reginald behind my back?"  He threw back another drink and turned to the bartender to request another.  "I can't believe how easily you played me for a fool."

"Oh, Douglas, no!  That's not the way it was at all!"  She clung to him and tried to convince him of her innocence.  "I care about you so very much.  Y-you're the first man to really treat me like I'm somebody."

Douglas Davis"My mistake." he muttered.  "You've shown me your true colors and I can't believe how naive I've been.  Now get away from me!  I can't stand the site of you!"


Jasper St. John"There you are, Miss Callison!"  Jasper St. John called out to Maggie as he waved at her to get her attention.  "There's a phone call from the lobby for you."

"A phone call?" Maggie questioned as she walked over to the house phone at the end of the bar.

"Yes, it's Mrs. Albany's driver."  He handed her the  receiver.  "He said to tell you he's waiting on you downstairs."

"Thank you," she muttered as she pressed the receiver against her ear.  She glared at Jasper when she realized he wasn't going away.  "I'd like to take this call in private!"

"O-oh, of course," he mumbled.  He rolled his eyes and briskly moved away.

Maggie Callison"This is Maggie Callison," she spoke sweetly into the phone.  "Oh, no, sir, there's been a change of plans.  Uh huh.  Well, you see, it turns out that I don't need your services at all.  No, I'm not going home."  She grumbled and sighed.  Why was her grandmother's driver being so difficult?  "Well, Mrs. Albany is my grandmother and she wants me to stay a little longer!  Yes, that's right.  Yes, these are her orders."  She slowly relaxed as a smile replaced her frown.  "Thank you, so much.  My grandmother appreciates your loyal service."

Maggie hung up the phone with a grin.  She quickly scanned the room for a glimpse of her mother and grandmother and was pleased to find them no where in site.  "I'll show them who's not a child," she muttered to herself as she slipped away unnoticed.


Stephanie Lake"Douglas, please, you have to understand!"  Stephanie grabbed his arm to hold his attention.  "Everything I did tonight, I did for Sara!"

"Sara?  What in the world does she have to do with all of this?"

"You've seen what kind of man Dane is!  I-I had to get him away from her.  I had to keep him from hurting her!"  Her eyes were full of sadness and pleas for understanding.  "I had to get Jillian to take him back so he'd leave Sara alone!"

"You had to get Jillian to take Dane back so you could have Reginald all to yourself!" he corrected with a sneer.  "That's what this has all been about!  Save your feeble attempts at noble sacrifice.  You did this all for yourself!  Sara be damned!"

"No!"

"You even used me to get invited to this party so you could cause trouble!"  He took another swig of his drink.  "You used my feelings for you so that you could destroy Reginald and Jillian.  How could I have been so blind?  I thought you were a sweet and beautiful girl, but now I realize that you are horrible and ugly!"

"No!  That's not how it was at all!"  Stephanie began to cry again.  "Douglas, I really do care about you.  I-I had given up on my feelings for Reginald.  I'd hoped that you and I  could have a future together!"

Douglas Davis"I fell for your lies once; I refuse to do it again!"

"D-Douglas, how much have you had to drink?"  Stephanie quickly surveyed the bar and noted the collection of empty glasses that sat there.

"You know, I really don't think that's any of your concern."  He finished his drink and quickly got another one.  "In fact, nothing about me is any of your concern.  Why don't you go find some other helpless sap so you can set out to destroy his life, too!"  He snatched his drink off the bar and pushed her away.

"Douglas, please!  Please give me another chance!" she wailed.  "Please let me prove to you how much I care about you!"

He eyed her coldly.  Without another word, he quickly stormed away leaving her completely alone.


THE GRAND SUNSET ROOM

The Grand Sunset RoomAnnabelle Lake"Oh, Charles, you look so upset."  Annabelle approached him slowly and noted the lines of worry on his face.  "This party hasn't exactly turned out like you'd planned, has it?"

"I can't believe that man had the nerve to criticize my family!"  He slammed his fist against the bar.  "Why, I should..."

"What man?  What are you talking about?"  She gently laid her hand on his arm and looked at him with concern.

"Nelson Stokes!  How dare he say that the Callisons aren't good enough for their daughter!"

"Well, he clearly doesn't have any idea what he's talking about!"  She shook her head in disbelief.  "You know how highly this city holds you and your family.  You're probably the first family of Albanyville...well, after the Albanys, but then there aren't any of them left anymore except for Francis and her mother.  The Callisons have done wonderful things for everyone.  Callison Publications employs many people and you are always the first to contribute to worthwhile charities.  Why, The Daily Post is probably the most respected newspaper in the region!"

"I know, I know."  Charles sighed as he lowered his head.  "But all Nelson sees is a small town family filled with scandal.  Reginald's actions here tonight didn't help things any."

"Why do you even care what Mr. Stokes thinks?  Let him worry about life in his world!  Albanyville is your world.  His arrogant opinions can't take that away from you."

Charles Callison"You're right!  I can't let the rantings of some narrow-minded snob negate everything I've worked for.  The Callisons are a fine family!  His arrogant assumptions can't erase that!"

She smiled at him seductively.  "See, Charles?  See what I can do for you?  I can lift you up when you're feeling down.  I can make you feel better about yourself.  You need me, Charles."  She leaned in to kiss him, but he swiftly dodged her advances.

"No, Annabelle!  I love Francis.  She's my wife.  I will not allow you to worm your way into my life!"  He crossed his arms and took a step backward.

She looked at him and sighed.  How much longer would he stay true to a wife who had long outlived her usefulness to him?  "Okay, Charles," she cooed softly.  "But at least let me get you a drink.  It will help calm your nerves."

He thought for a minute and nodded.  What harm could a drink do?

Annabelle turned to motion to the bartender.  With her back to Charles, she reached into her purse and pulled out the bottle she'd received from Dr. Rutherford.  Now, with drink in one hand and mysterious bottle in the other, she grinned slyly to herself.


Trevor Callison"So, have things settled down now between you and Jillian?" Trevor asked as he stood next to Reginald.  "I can't believe Dane and Stephanie had the gall to pull the stunts they did.  I can't believe you stood up and revealed every underhanded thing that they've done!  There's no way anyone could ever trust either one of them again!"

"Well, I'm afraid that in my haste to be truthful, I've lost Jillian."  Reginald's head hung low as he thought about a life without the woman he loved.

"What?  Surely you're wrong!"

"I'm afraid not."  Reginald sighed and shook his head.  "She's very angry with me for spilling our personal lives out for everyone to see and inspect.  You can't imagine how hurt and embarrassed she is.  S-she's having second thoughts about our marriage."

"I can't believe that!  No!"  Trevor sternly grabbed his brother by the shoulders.  "Look, you and Jillian love each other too much to let this come between you!  A love like yours only comes along once in a lifetime.  If you truly love her as much as you say you do, you've got to fight for her.  You've got to make her see how right you are for each other!"

Reginald Callison"I do love her, but you know how stubborn she can be!"  Reginald rubbed his forehead with the heal of his hand.  "She doesn't let go of things easily."

"Reginald, true love is a rare thing."  Trevor's thoughts drifted toward Grace.  "It's something you can't let slip through your fingers.  You've got to fight for Jillian.  You've got to make her see that not marrying you would be the biggest mistake she could ever make!"

"You're right!" Reginald agreed forcefully as he slammed his fist into the palm of his hand.  "I've got to convince her that we belong together.  I've got to make her understand!"

Trevor watched his brother as Reginald hurried away to find Jillian.  Silently, Trevor realized that he need to take his own advice.  He needed to force Grace to see the truth, as well.


Annabelle LakeAnnabelle swiftly uncapped the bottle and began to pour its contents into Charles' drink.  Suddenly, she felt a presence behind her.

"Excuse me," Lorraine muttered as she bumped into Annabelle.

"Um...oh...that's quite alright."  She quickly recapped the bottle as she hid her actions from sight and turned around.  "Quite a lot of interesting events going on tonight, aren't there?"

"That's probably an understatement."  Lorraine's attitude toward Annabelle was chilly.  "Charles, are you doing alright?"  Her eyes darted back and forth between Charles and Annabelle.

"I'm doing better since I've been talking to Annabelle, here."  He reached out and patted her on the shoulder.  "She's made me understand exactly how foolishly I've reacted to certain slanderous comments against my family."

Lorraine Blake"Ah, I see."  Lorraine's voice was tinged with sarcasm as she faced the bartender and requested a drink.  She took a sip and sat it down before addressing Charles again.  "Well, I'm sure everything will work out for the best.  Reginald and Jillian are so perfect for one another."

"I hope so." Charles muttered in reply.

"Well, I need to find my date," Lorraine said as she picked up her glass.  "Seems Patterson has disappeared somewhere.  He's probably off trying to soothe Dane's wounded ego.  Honestly, I've never understood how those two could be such good friends."

"And I wonder where Francis has gone," Charles spoke up as Lorraine walked away.  "She went to find Maggie and send her home, but I haven't seen her since.  She must be off gabbing with her mother."  He took a few steps away from the bar to make a quick survey of the ball room for a glimpse of his wife.

Seeing her chance, Annabelle swiftly pulled out the bottle again and reached for Charles' drink.  Turning her back to hide her actions, she looked at the bottle and smiled.  She'd only managed to pour in a little of it's contents before Lorraine had interrupted.  As she picked up Charles' drink, her eyes grew wide with shock...there was a smudge of lipstick on the glass.  She quickly realized what had happened.  Lorraine had taken the wrong drink!

Charles Callison"Annabelle?"  Charles' voice came from behind her.  "What's going on?  Can I have my drink?"

"Oh...why...yes, of course."  She slipped the bottle back into her purse and quickly wiped the lipstick off the rim of the glass.  "Here you go, Charles."  She handed him the drink and smiled.  "You know, it's a little too loud in here.  Why don't we go into the lounge?  I'm sure the quietness will greatly improve your mood.  Besides, it will give us a chance to talk."

"What are you up to?" he questioned as he watched her closely.

"Nothing!" she laughed nervously and clutched her purse tightly.  "It's just so loud in here."

"Well, I guess there's no harm.  Just don't try anything funny."  He slowly left her side and walked toward the lounge.

"Me?" she chuckled.  As she quickly followed him, she prayed that she would get another chance to gain possession of his drink.  Suddenly, a thought struck her.  Exactly how much of the contents of the bottle had she managed to get into Lorraine's drink and what would happen when Lorraine downed the tainted cocktail?