THE GRAND SUNSET ROOM

Grace DavisThe Grand Sunset Room"Oh, my!" Grace gasped to herself as she looked up.  Her eyes grew wide as she saw Dane standing in front of her.  Despite his now swollen lip, she thought about how handsome he looked as he leaned against the wall .  "Um, hello, Dane," she spoke nervously.

"Oh, hi," he smiled as his eyes sparkled.  "It's Grace, isn't it?"

"Yes!"  She was thrilled that he remembered her.  "How are you?  I mean, considering everything that's happened."

"I'm actually doing pretty good."  He flashed her his trademark grin.  "I still can't believe that Reginald made a scene like that.  He had no reason!"

"So, you're saying that nothing he said was true?  You weren't trying to cause trouble between him and his fiancée?"

"Of course not!"  He turned to face her more fully.  "I'm just an innocent bystander in this whole mess.  It's Stephanie Lake who's responsible for all this chaos, not me!"

Grace let out a sigh of relief.  She had just known that Dane couldn't be mixed up in such horrible schemes.  "Well, I knew you couldn't be involved.  You're just too nice a guy to be capable of such things."

Dane ManchesterDane smiled at her and laughed.  He'd never had anyone refer to him as a "nice guy" before.  He kind of liked the ring of it.  "Well, I'm glad I at least have one supporter."  Suddenly, the tempo of the orchestra changed and the sounds of a romantic melody began to fill the air.  "Grace, would you like to dance?"

She felt her heart beat faster in her chest.  Oh, my god!  He asked me to dance!  It's just like in my dream. she thought as she felt her face flush.  "I-I'd like that very much."

Dane gently took her hand and led her onto the dance floor.  Grace had been waiting for this moment for months.  Now, she was going to be in his arms and dancing to the delicate strains of the orchestra.  Would the rest of her dream come true, too?  Would Dane tell her he loved her?


Francis Callison"I am so glad that Maggie went home," Francis sighed as she turned toward Mary.  "With everything that's happened here tonight, this is no place for her."

"Well, I have to agree with you," Mary nodded.  "I know that granddaughter of mine thinks she knows everything, but Maggie is still very impressionable.  She reminds me a lot of you at that age."

"You've got to be joking!  I was never like that!"

Mary chuckled slightly.  "Dear, you were exactly like that!"

"I just can't believe this party has turned into such a complete disaster.  Jillian and I worked so hard on everything."  Francis' shoulders slumped in disappointment.

Mary Albany"Don't worry, I'm sure everything is going to be alright.  Whatever trouble Dane Manchester and Stephanie Lake were trying to cause has been exposed.  Everything can get back to normal, now."

They continued to chat as they walked back towards the bar.

"Now, where did Charles go?"  Francis paused as she rested her hands on her hips.  She quickly looked around the room in hopes of seeing her husband.  "I left him right here.  He was so angry after that run-in with Jillian's father."

"I'm sure he's calmed down.  He's probably just mingling with the rest of the guests," Mary reassured.  "trying to get everyone back into the festive spirit of the night."

"I hope so."  Francis nervously rubbed her neck.  She didn't see Annabelle around, either.  Privately, she hoped that they weren't together.


Grace Davis"You are wonderful dancer!" Grace exclaimed as she glided around the dance floor wrapped in Dane's strong arms.

"I do many things wonderfully," he teased as he pulled her closer.

As Grace rested her head on his shoulder, she glanced around the room to catch sight of Sara.  She couldn't find her in the crowd and began to grow disappointed that that part of her dream wasn't happening the way it should.  Grace lifted her head slowly and looked deeply into Dane's eyes.  "You are quite a charmer, Dane.  You've very handsome, too."

"Oh, you're just saying that!"  Dane felt his broken spirit soar again under Grace's flattery.  She was being so good for his ego.  "And you're a very attractive young woman, as well."  He lightly traced the outline of her cheek with his finger.

"D-Dane, I have to confess something."  She lowered her eyes slightly.  "I've sort of had a crush on you."  She felt her pulse begin to race.  She couldn't believe she'd been bold enough to reveal her secret.  "From the moment I first met you in Douglas' office, every time I see you my heart skips a beat."

Dane Manchester"Gee, you keep on and you'll make me blush."  A smile started to spread across his face.  Ah, Dane, he thought to himself, no matter what Jillian thinks, you've still got an affect on the ladies.

"Dane, I..." her voice trailed off as she began to feel caught up in the moment.  Suddenly, she leaned in to him and pressed her lips against his.  In one swift movement, she kissed him deeply.  It was a moment she'd waited for forever.

Dane was surprised and taken aback by her actions, but he did not pull away.  Also caught up in the impetuousness of it all, he returned her kiss with equal intensity.  Neither Grace nor Dane saw Trevor standing at the edge of the dance floor quietly wondering exactly what was going on.


The Grand Sunset RoomStephanie LakeStephanie stood solemnly in a corner and watched the guests slowly start to return to celebrating Reginald and Jillian's engagement.  She clutched her hands to her chest as she wrapped herself in her loneliness.  Her eyes landed on the happy couple and she watched them as they talked.  She lowered her head and nervously wiped away a tear as it formed in the corner of her eye.  Reginald did love Jillian.  She realized that now.  Stephanie also realized that she'd only talked herself into believing that she could be the one he really loved.

She looked up again and saw Douglas still standing by the bar.  Their eyes met and she gave him a pleading look.  He sneered in response and turned his back to her.  She really was all alone.  All her years of popularity in high school couldn't help her now.  She was in an adult world and those childish games wouldn't work.  She bit her lip as it quivered and she turned to walk away, but collided with Helen Van Dyne.

"O-oh, I'm sorry," Stephanie muttered as she looked up startled.

"Well, if it isn't the princess troublemaker!"  Helen eyed her coldly.  "Don't you think you've caused enough trouble for one night?"

"Leave me alone," Stephanie muttered in response.

Helen Van Dyne"Why don't you just leave?  Everything you'd tried to do to hurt Reginald and Jillian has failed!"  Helen grabbed Stephanie's arm firmly.  "Just get out of here!  No one wants you here!"

"I-I can't go home."  Stephanie began to sob.  "I-I came with Douglas and he won't even talk to me.  I don't have a way home!"

"You're feet look like they work."  Helen giggled maliciously.  "And don't even think about trying to pledge Theta Omega Chi in the fall.  We don't want you.  In fact, no one wants you!"

Stephanie fought to hide her pain and yanked her arm away.  With Helen's cold eyes still on her, Stephanie ran from the room.


Patterson Monroe"Um, hello, Trevor," Patterson muttered tentatively as he approached him.  "Um, have you seen Lorraine?  She went to get a drink and I seemed to have lost track of her."

"Huh?  What?"  Trevor turned to face him having only heard a fraction of what he'd said.  "Oh, Patterson.  It's you.  I, um, haven't seen her."

"Well, you seem lost in your own world."  Patterson smirked.  "What's going..." He looked in the direction of Trevor's gaze and saw Grace with Dane.  He held back a chuckle when he realized what was going on.  "So, I see your great love seems to be a little preoccupied with Dane."

Trevor Callison"I, uh, really hadn't noticed."

"If you say so," Patterson laughed.  "I guess you better keep an eye on her.  Looks to me like she feels about as strongly about him as you do about her."

Trevor quickly turned and shot him an angry look.

"You better be careful or you could loose her to Dane.  I guess that would make all the pain you've caused Lorraine for nothing."  Patterson laughed to himself at the irony and quietly walked away leaving Trevor to wonder what exactly was going on.


Stephanie LakeStephanie choked back tears as she stumbled out onto the balcony.  She looked out on the city and began to wonder where everything had gone wrong.  The warm June breeze fluttered across her shoulders and she felt a brief moment of relief from her pain, but that relief was fleeting.

"Oh, how could it all have turned out like this?" she asked to herself.  "I was so sure Reginald loved me.  What kind of fool was I?  Of course he didn't love me.  Why would anyone love me?"  She rested her head in her hands as she leaned on the railing  She carefully peered over the edge and looked at the ground many stories below.  "I should never have listened to Momma.  I should never have listened to Dane.  I-I could have had a future with Douglas, but now he hates me!  Dane used me, Reginald hates me...everyone hates me!"  She began to cry harder as she sunk to the ground and leaned her head against the railing.  She slowly rocked herself back and forth while she thought about the emptiness she felt inside.  "No one loves me!  No one except Momma, but she told me wrong.  She told me I could have Reginald.  She made me believe I could be happy.  She was wrong!  Now, I don't think I can ever be happy."

Patterson MonroeStephanie sat curled up on the ground.  Because of her tears, she didn't realize she was being watched.  Unknown to her, Patterson was standing in the doorway.  He'd come in search of Lorraine, but had found a broken Stephanie instead.  He suddenly grew very confused.  Considering all of her despicable actions, why was he now beginning to feel so sorry for her?


THE GRAND SUNSET ROOM

The Grand Sunset Room"So, Annabelle, how did a woman like you get to be a woman like you?"  Charles let out a small chuckle and eyed her closely.  Her eyes, however, closely watched the drink in his hand.  She had to stifle the groan that tried to form in her throat as she watched him take another drink.

"Well, my husband wasn't exactly the best choice for a mate that I could have made," she replied honestly.  "But, I was young and naive.  I actually believed in happily ever after."  She nervously fingered the bottle she secretly held in her hand.

"And you don't now?"  He watched her as she shook her head in response.  "So...um...what happened?"

"Stephen was a dreamer who was always looking for an easy way to get rich.  He was never one to hold an honest job."  Annabelle grew sad as she thought about her wasted life with her late husband.  "That left me to work to support him and Stephanie.  Things were hard enough until he started getting involved in more and more illegal activities...the mob.  There was a period where I wasn't sure we'd make it through that time alive."

Charles reached out to hold her hand in a show of support and understanding.  She flinched when he grabbed the hand that held the bottle.  "I-I never knew.  So, what happened to Stephen?  How did he die?"

Annabelle Lake"You know," she spoke up as she tried to change the subject.  "I really don't want to talk about me.  What about you?  Tell me about when you were younger...before you had to become head of the Callison family."

"Not much to tell, actually."  He took another drink and, to Annabelle's relief, sat his glass down on the table behind them.  "I was the youngest of two boys.  I wasn't the one who was supposed to take over my father's role as head of the family.  My brother Landon was supposed to do that."

"Um, so why didn't he?"  Annabelle kept his attention focused while she swiftly poured the remainder of the bottle's contents into his drink unnoticed.  She smiled as she picked up the glass and returned it to his hand.

"He died," Charles spoke matter-of-factly.  "Horseback riding accident.  He was only 18.  Without him to follow in my father's footsteps, that job was left to me.  I suddenly become an only child and sole heir to the Callison name."

"Oh, Charles, I'm so sorry."  She saw the emotional pain that his memories were causing him and wrapped her arms around him to give him support.  "All the plans you'd made for you life must have changed instantly."

"They did."  He swallowed hard as he remembered how hard he'd worked to live up to Landon's memory.  Much to Annabelle's glee, he took a drink of his tainted cocktail.


Maggie CallisonMaggie maneuvered cautiously across the back of the room as she tried not to be seen.  She knew that if her parents discovered that she hadn't gone home as they'd requested, she'd be in serious trouble.  She stopped for a moment to again take in everything that was going on.  From where she was standing she could see Dane dancing with Grace, Reginald talking to Jillian, and the Stokes family all huddled together.  Now, where did Patterson go? she thought to herself.

She turned a corner and nearly felt her heart stop.  There was her mother and grandmother standing right in her path.  Maggie let out a slight gasp and realized that she had to stay out of site or she'd be grounded for a week.  That meant no radio!  She paused as she thought about a week without Today's Children and realized that she wouldn't be able to make it that long without listening to her favorite show.  Cautiously, she changed directions.

The lounge!  She smiled as the idea suddenly came to her.  There's no one in the lounge; I'll hide there until it calms down.  Unnoticed, she carefully walked toward the lounge doors.


Charles CallisonAnnabelle Lake"Oh, Charles, that must have been so difficult for you."  Annabelle watched him carefully as she waited for him to feel the effects of his drink.

"I-It was.  Not only was Landon my big brother, he was my idol.  I wanted to be just like him."  Charles thought about his dead brother and, to Annabelle's shock, downed the remainder of his drink in one gulp.

They sat in silence for a few moments.  Nervously, Annabelle moved closer to him.  "Charles?" she finally spoke.

"U-um, yes?"  He squinted his eyes as he tried to focus on her face.  He swallowed and rubbed the back of his neck.  He was suddenly feeling very lightheaded and wasn't sure why.  He didn't think he'd had that much to drink, but now everything seemed to be in a fog.

"Are you alright?"  She placed her hand on his leg and leaned in to him.  The drug was working much faster than she'd anticipated.  Dr. Rutherford had been correct in his recommendation.  "You seem a little out of sorts."

"Suddenly, I'm just not feeling so well."  As Charles tried to shake off the funny feeling that had overtaken him, he did nothing to fight Annabelle's narrowing proximity.  Neither one saw Maggie slowly push open the door and cautiously look in.

 



 


NEXT TIME

Maggie can't keep a secret.
Jillian makes a decision.
Sara gives Dane an ultimatum.




 


produced/written by G. Matthew Smith

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