For Now and Forever
EPISODE #26 (Monday
CALLISON PUBLICATIONS - CHARLES' OFFICE
"Finally, Thornton Preston is going to set foot in this office and I'm going to tell him exactly what I think about his plans to pull out of his contract." Charles nervously paced the floor as Douglas and Annabelle watched him closely.
"Charles, this contract is iron clad," Douglas spoke up. "There's no way he can get out of it. I drew it up myself."
"Douglas is right," Annabelle said as she walked over to Charles and laid a hand on his shoulder. "He has to come through with The Manhattan Conflict. He doesn't have a choice."
"Yes, you're right, but I know what kind of spiteful man he can be. It would be just like him to hand over 500 pages of pure drivel and call it a day!" Charles took a deep breath as his mind again began to focus on the financial losses his company might face.
"Mr. Callison?" Lorraine knocked lightly on the door as she pushed it open. "Thornton Preston is here."
"Finally!" Charles exclaimed as he walked toward her. "Lorraine, show the man in."
Moments later, Thornton was escorted in and finally stood face to face with Charles. Thornton didn't look the least bit happy to be there.
"Ah, Mr. Callison, we finally meet," Thornton spoke up as he shook Charles' hand. "I apologize for the long delay in this meeting, but I'm sure you understand considering all the work that DeMille has required of me for Tainted Woman."
"Yes, I'm sure." Charles turned to position himself behind his desk and assume his role of authority. "However, I hope you're here to discuss the delay in The Manhattan Conflict. You're delivery of that novel is long overdue. I expect that you've finally brought the finished manuscript for review by my editors. Let's get this show on the road!"
"Well, as I was saying, Mr. Callison," Thornton sighed as he turned away and carefully analyzed Douglas and Annabelle as they stood along the sidelines watching. "Tainted Woman has taken up so much of my time that Conflict is no where near ready for submission."
"What?" Charles' eyes began to burn. Thornton was giving him the runaround and he knew it. "That book was scheduled to hit the stands this week! I haven't even seen the completed version yet!"
"And I'm very doubtful you ever will," Thornton announced dryly. He was well aware that all eyes were upon him. "You see, this delay has given me some time to review my contract. After careful analysis, I've come to realize that association with Callison Publications is not in my best interest. I intend on being released from my contract...now!"
Grace's mind was filled with thoughts of her mother as she casually strolled across the park. She came upon a young woman sitting on a bench working on a water color of the statue of former Albanyville mayor Grayson Baily which stood in the center of the park.
"Wow!" Grace exclaimed as she looked intently at the artwork. "That's really good."
"Thank you," Janet smiled as she looked up at Grace. She turned to face her and held out her hand. "Hi, I'm Janet."
"Hello, my name's Grace." She gave her hand a light shake. "You do that very well. I wish I had some sort of talent like that. I can only seem to draw stick people."
"Well, it's something I've had to work at. Granted, I view my artistic abilities as a gift, but I have to keep working on them so that they advance." Janet watched Grace closely and quickly noticed that her heart was heavy with worries. "Are you okay? You seem like you have something on your mind."
"Is it that obvious?" Grace let out a small sigh and then plopped herself down onto the bench beside Janet.
"Very." Janet let out a small laugh. "Do you want to talk about it? I'm a very good listener."
Grace thought for a moment. Why should she tell her darkest fears to a complete stranger? She didn't know Janet at all. How could she know she was trustworthy? Grace considered her options and then decided that maybe an outside opinion might be a good thing. Maybe someone with distance from her situation and life could give her the answers that she searched for.
"I'm sorry," Janet blushed. "I-I'm being nosy. I really didn't aim to pry."
"Oh, no! It's not that at all." Grace lowered her head slightly as she chewed on her lip. She desperately wanted to confide in someone, but quickly grew afraid of what Janet would surely think of her because of her family. "I-it's just that...well...my family's past has not necessarily been a pleasant one."
"Actually, I know what you mean." Janet looked away for a moment as her face clouded over with thoughts and memories of a time that was best forgotten. "I know exactly what you mean."
CALLISON PUBLICATIONS - CHARLES' OFFICE
"Look, Preston, you signed a contract that gives me publication rights to Conflict," Charles stated firmly as he began to feel his blood pressure rise. "You are not getting out of it! You will turn over that manuscript and you better do it soon!"
"As I've said, I've reviewed my contract and it is not satisfactory." Thornton maintained a calm demeanor as he walked around the office. "I expect to be released from it without hesitation. Callison Publications will not receive The Manhattan Conflict."
"Well, Mr. Preston," Douglas spoke up, "if you'd just tell us what parts of your contract don't agree with you, maybe we can work something out that would be in everyone's best interests."
"Any association with Callison Publications would not be in my best interest!" Finally, Thornton was allowing his own temper to get the better of him. "I demand to be released from this contract. It would be in your best interest to do so because I am not finishing The Manhattan Conflict and I am not turning it over to you!"
"You signed that contract with a promise to give us publication rights to your next novel!" Charles rose from his desk and carefully approached Thornton. "That was supposed to be Conflict, but if you have no intention of finishing that book, we'll take possession of your next novel!"
"I do not think so! I refuse to honor this sham of a contract!"
"You listen to me, Thornton, if you back out on this contract, I'll see you in court!" Charles was now nose to nose with Thornton. The tension in the air was thick as Douglas and Annabelle silently wondered about the futility of it all.
"I don't know why I'm surprised that your being so adamant about this." Thornton willed himself back to displaying a calm exterior. "I'm sure any publishing house with any quality whatsoever would want to keep an author of my caliber and reputation under lock and key."
"Seems like a reputation of being arrogant and difficult," Annabelle muttered under her breath in an aside to Douglas.
"I suspected this would happen. That's why I'm prepared to remain in Albanyville until you come to your senses and give me what I want." Thornton promptly turned and headed for the door. "I'm renting the Springhill estate out by Spring Lake. When you change your mind, you can contact me there. For now, however, this meeting is over." With those words, he walked calmly, yet briskly, out of the office leaving Charles to fume over this continuing business crisis.
THE WISHING WELL SODA SHOPPE
"I've just got to get something to eat before Anatomy class," Patterson muttered as he walked through the doors of the restaurant. "If I don't, I just know Professor Harding is gonna put me to sleep." As he approached the counter, he looked up to see Stephanie and Clark sitting together in a back booth. He watched them closely and grew uncomfortable as they laughed and flirted with one another. He quickly turned away in hopes of not being seen.
"Patterson!" Stephanie called out as she waved to him from across the room.
"Oh, well," he muttered as he let out a deep sigh and crossed over to them. "Hello, Steph, Clark, how's everything going today?" He looked at the couple closely and saw how Clark had his arm wrapped tightly around her and she was lightly playing with his hair.
"Every one of my days had been perfect since I met this beautiful girl," Clark exclaimed as he turned to smile at Stephanie.
"Oh, Clark!" she giggled before lowering her head in mock modesty. "Paddy, isn't he just the sweetest thing? I never thought I could be as happy as I am right now. Clark, you've been so good for me."
"No, Stephanie, I think it's the other way around!" He leaned in and kissed her lightly on the cheek. "You have been so good for me! I don't think I could ever have as much fun as I have when I'm with you."
"So, I take it things are going well between you two," Patterson muttered dryly. He eyed Clark closely as the other man smiled warmly at Stephanie and whispered something Patterson couldn't hear into Stephanie's ear. Patterson felt his face burn slightly as Stephanie giggled at whatever had been said.
"Clark says the most romantic things," Stephanie said as she looked up at Patterson and giggled again.
"Now, I hate to do this, but I've got to get to class." Clark pulled himself away from Stephanie and began to gather up his books. "Statistics class awaits!" He leaned in to give Stephanie another quick kiss. "I'll talk to you later, sweetie."
Stephanie's eyes followed Clark as he walked out of the restaurant and she turned to again face Patterson. She immediately noticed his cool demeanor. "Okay, Paddy, what's up? You read like a book. Sit down here and tell me what's going on."
"Nothing's wrong," he replied as he slid into the booth beside her. "I-I just don't know if I trust this Clark guy. There's something about him I don't like."
"You know, Paddy, if I didn't know better, I'd say you were jealous." Stephanie leaned in an sipped her soda as she carefully watched for his reaction.
"Jealous?" Patterson's eyes grew wide with shock at her comment. There was absolutely no way he could be jealous. "What are you talking about? What would I be jealous of?"
"Of Clark, silly," she laughed. "Every time you see us together, you get this stupid little look on your face. You get all flushed and flustered." She looked at him closely. "Kind of like you are now."
"I am not jealous!" He said firmly as he slammed his fist down on the table. He folded his arms across his chest defiantly and he silently fumed. What in the world could she be thinking? Of course he wasn't jealous. Was he?
"So, Janet, how long have you lived in Albanyville?" Grace asked as she looked at her earnestly.
"Well, actually, I don't," Janet laughed in response. "I'm really just visiting my sister Jillian."
"Jillian? Jillian Stokes?" Grace looked at her closely. She did look familiar. "Of course! I remember seeing you at the engagement party."
"You were there?"
"Yes, I went with Reginald's brother Trevor."
"My, it's a small world." Janet smiled as she sat her painting aside to chat with Grace. "I'd only come to town for a few weeks to visit Jillian, but I've decided to extend my stay. What with everything going on at the party, we really didn't have much of a chance to actually visit the last time I was here."
"So, um, what were you talking about when you said that you knew what I meant about having a family with a horrible past?" Grace watched Janet and was quick to notice her nervous reaction. She began to feel guilty that she was the one now prying.
"I, um," Janet stammered awkwardly. "Well, my sister Judith is far from being a saint and then there's Father's whole attitude concerning Reginald and Jillian." She quickly turned away to hide the pained expression that was covering her face. Silently, her mind drifted to another time. It was time long ago when nothing was right in the world...
"Janet?" Grace spoke up as she tapped her lightly on the shoulder. "Janet, are you alright?"
"Oh...oh, yes, I'm fine," Janet forced a smile as she turned back to face Grace. "Everything is just fine."
TO BE CONTINUED
Reginald and Jillian cross paths with Dane and Sara.
For Now and Forever
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