For Now and Forever
EPISODE #18 (Wednesday
Charles nuzzled her neck gently as he caressed her soft flesh.
Oh, how much I love you...oh, how much I need you. You are the only woman in the world for me. How could I ever make it through this life without you. I've hurt you terribly and I don't deserve all the love and forgiveness that you're willing to give me. Oh, Francis, how I love you so much...
THE LAKE APARTMENT
"Oh, Charles," Annabelle sighed as he kissed her tenderly on her neck. "You do have a way about you."
He looked up startled as he drug his mind back from its wanderings. He was there with Annabelle in her apartment, not with Francis...not with the woman he truly wanted to be with.
She eyed him closely. "Dear, where were you a moment ago? You seemed to be off in another world?"
"I-I'm sorry," he muttered as he pulled away from her. "I was thinking about Francis. I love her so much. I-I really shouldn't be here."
"Then why are you here?" she questioned as she sat back and lit a cigarette. "If you love your wife so much, why are you here with me? After all, I am the reason she left you." She slid herself over to him and rested her head on his arm. "You know, I didn't want any of this to happen. I truly didn't intend to destroy your marriage. I only wanted a little part of you for myself. I just wanted a piece of your heart, not the entire thing." She snuck a glance up at him to check if he was truly paying attention to her.
"I don't blame you," he muttered. He closed his eyes and tried to will away everything that had happen over the past months. "I have to take responsibility for what I've done. No matter what you did, nothing would ever have come of it if I hadn't wanted it to. Somewhere, deep down inside, I wanted what happened. I-I don't like that part of me very much, but I have to accept that it's there. This has just made me realize how bad I am for Francis. I can't allow myself to hurt her any more."
"So, you're going through with the divorce?"
"What else can I do?" He inhaled deeply. The waft of smoke in the room drew his mind back to the blurry night he'd shared with Annabelle months before. "I know she's better off without me. I have to do whatever it takes to stay away from her. It's what's best for her."
A sly grin spread across Annabelle's lips as she snuggled closer to Charles.
Burt inhaled the warm air as he walked through the park. Though the calendar said it was almost fall, it still felt like summer and most people were trying to hold on to those lazy, hazy days. As a cloud passed overhead, blocking out the sun, he looked up and silently hoped that there weren't storm clouds moving in. While he was looking up into the sky, he suddenly felt his foot catch on a rock in the grass which sent him tumbling to the ground.
"That was graceful," Janet Stokes laughed as she looked down at Burt who lay at her feet. She'd spent most of the afternoon sitting on a bench sketching the scenic landscape of the park. "I never had anyone literally fall for me before."
"I, uh, tripped," Burt muttered as his face grew red from embarrassment. He quickly rose to his feet and dusted off his pants. "I guess I should really spend more time watching where I'm going and less time looking up at the clouds."
"That's okay. I've been accused of spending too much time daydreaming, myself." She smiled at him and took careful note of his strong, broad shoulders and boyish grin.
"Um, oh!" Burt laughed as he extended his hand. "My name's Burt, Burt Lamont. I, uh, just moved to Albanyville."
"That's funny, I'm not from here either," Janet smiled as she shook his hand. "I'm, um, from Connecticut. I'm just in town visiting my sister."
"Well, Miss Connecticut, so what's your name?" He smiled at her as he watched the sun play off her golden hair. He couldn't help but think about what a fresh innocence she had about her.
"Um...Janet," she smiled cautiously, "Janet...Scott."
THE SUNSET HOTEL - JILLIAN'S SUITE
"I can't believe Father let Janet make this trip by herself," Jillian said as she sat on the sofa wrapped in Reginald's arms. "I know she's supposed to be in Chicago for an artists' seminar, but he's so protective of her."
"So you've said," Reginald laughed. "You know, it almost seems hard to believe that she's your older sister."
"And what's that supposed to mean?" She looked up at him with a scowl.
"I just mean that she seems so naive and passive about things. You, however, are much more worldly and sophisticated. You just seem like you should be the older sister and not the other way around."
"Well, Father has always been over protective of her ever since she was a baby." Jillian paused to chew on her lip as she contemplated telling Reginald the entire story. She quickly shook off the idea. It was a part of her family's past that was better off not being discussed. "She came down with scarlet fever and nearly died. Our parents were always so protective of her after that. Both Judith and I went to boarding school, but Janet was schooled at home. They refused to let her out of their sight. That's one of the reasons she can seem so awkward in social settings."
"What about what happened before?" he questioned her tentatively. A few months ago, Jillian had almost revealed a dark secret about her family that concerned Janet, but had avoided discussing it. Reginald began to wonder exactly what she was hiding from him.
"T-that's a lot of it, too," she stammered as she quickly tried to think of ways to change the subject. She just couldn't tell him everything...not after they'd all tried so hard to forget. "Reginald, I can't go into this! I just can't!"
"Jillian, I thought we'd agreed not to keep secrets from each other. Aren't secrets what almost tore us apart before?"
"This is different!" she said firmly as she turned away from him. "This has nothing to do with us. This is about my family! I can't tell you what happened. I just can't! Please don't ask me again."
"Okay," he muttered as he quickly backed down. He could clearly see how upset she was getting and knew not to press the matter any further. However, he couldn't help but wonder what could be so horrible as to elicit such a reaction. "It's just good to have Janet here on such a calmer visit than before."
"Yes, it is." She sighed with relief that he was willing to let her family's past rest. "I'm just afraid what will happen if Father finds out she and Mother lied to him. If he finds out that she's here and not in Chicago, like she's supposed to be, I'm afraid there'll be hell to pay."
"So, you said that you're in town visiting your sister?" Burt asked as he sat down next to her on the bench.
"Um...yes," Janet stammered. "Jill and I are very close." She fought to remember what she'd already told him. "I-I'm here to visit her."
"You're quite the talented artist, too, I see." He looked over her shoulder to see the drawing she'd been working on. "I really like the way you've captured the movement in those trees over there."
Janet blushed at the compliment. "I really do love art. Sometimes it seems art is really the only thing I have that's mine."
"What do you mean by that?"
"I...um...well," she stammered. "To me, art is a deeply personal thing. It comes from an artist's soul. No matter what happens to me in this world, I know I'll always have my art. That's one thing no one can take away from me."
"That's a really interesting perspective." Burt felt his heart beat faster as he watched her eyes fill with sincerity as she talked about the art she loved. "J-Janet," he spoke hesitantly, "I would really love to get together with you sometime during your stay here. I-I'd love to take you out and show you around town. Well...at least the parts I know, so far."
"R-really?" she stammered. Her face flushed. Janet couldn't believe her ears. He was actually asking her out on a date. "I-I'd love to!"
"Great!" Burt let out a sigh of relief. "Just tell me how I can get in touch with you and I'll make plans."
"Um...well...I really can't be reached where I'm staying," Janet muttered as she looked away. "Why don't you tell me how I can get in touch with you?"
"Okay," he smiled. "I'm working at the Callison Stables off Spring Lake Rd. I live in the old farmhouse out there."
Janet felt her heart fall. If he was working for the Callisons, surely he knew Reginald and Jillian! How in the world would she be able to continue her ruse?
ALBANYVILLE GENERAL HOSPITAL
Francis nervously strummed her fingers on the table as she sat and listened to the meeting. She had been apprehensive about attending the ladies auxiliary meeting, but both Mary and Dorothea had insisted. They told her she couldn't let herself be shamed into hiding by the curious looks and quiet chatter. Their persistence had strengthened her resolve, and now she sat in the meeting and felt the looks she was getting.
She refused to look up from the table to meet their eyes, but she could feel them. They were eyes of pity..."Poor Francis. How horrible that her marriage isn't working." They were eyes of curiosity..."I wonder exactly what happened that she had to leave her husband and move in with her mother." They were eyes of ridicule..."Those Callisons always thought they were better than everyone else. It's good to see that they have problems like everyone else." They were eyes of scorn..."I guess she really doesn't know how to keep a man. What kind of woman would just walk out on her family."
She could feel the eyes and she could hear the voices. As she watched her hands as they lay on the table, she could see them start to shake. She felt the tears begin to sting her eyes as the heat of those stares began to get to her. Finally, she couldn't take it anymore. In one, swift movement, she bolted from her seat and out of the room.
As she stood in the hallway, she leaned against the wall to catch her breath. She tried to wipe away her tears and faintly heard the footsteps as they approached her.
"Mrs. Callison, are you okay?" the masculine voice asked.
Francis sighed deeply and quickly composed herself as she dried her eyes. As she looked up, she saw Dr. Rutherford's smiling face.
TO BE CONTINUED
Lorraine has suspicions about Stephanie.
For Now and Forever
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