For Now and Forever
EPISODE #32 (Tuesday
THE GARDENS RESTAURANT
"We should probably avoid eating here from now on," Annabelle muttered to Charles as they were being shown to their table.
"Why do you say that?" he questioned.
"We keep running into your wife." Annabelle motioned across the restaurant toward Francis who was sitting with Fred Rutherford. She glanced in Charles' direction and smiled slyly to herself when she noticed his uneasiness. This was all going to work out just as she'd planned.
DANE & SARA'S APARTMENT - LIVING ROOM
"Let's see exactly how bad things really are," Sara muttered to herself as she sat down at Dane's desk. She knew her husband was prone to stretching things slightly out of proportion. She couldn't get over the uneasy feeling that Dane might be making their financial troubles out to be more than they were in an effort to make her regret forcing him to marry her.
Sara pulled Dane's ledger out of the top drawer and carefully flipped through the pages. Thank god he was an immaculate book keeper. With pencil and paper nearby, she began to write down numbers and make her own calculations. "Oh, this really isn't looking good," she mumbled as she scribbled on the paper.
When she came to her final calculation, she let out a sharp gasp. For once, Dane hadn't over-exaggerated their financial dilemmas. In fact, if anything, he'd understated exactly how severe their financial problems really were! "My god, we're not even going to have enough money for rent next month!" Sara lowered her head into her hands and began to gently rub her temples. As a headache began to form, she quickly began to grow fearful of exactly what their dire financial predicament would mean. If they couldn't even make rent, how were they going to live? How could he possibly stay in school? How in the world could their marriage survive such desperate times?
Sara tapped her lower lip with the pencil as she tried to clear her head enough to think rationally. It was obvious that they couldn't make it on Dane's pay from the printing plant alone. Her mind drifted back to her original suggestion that she find a job to help with their finances. She knew Dane was vehemently opposed to that idea, but Sara realized that logically it was the only true answer.
She glanced at the clock on the wall and realized that he wouldn't be home from work for several more hours. Dane usually went straight from his last class to his job and never made it home until very late. Often, Sara was already in bed when he arrived. Surely she could find a part-time job in the evenings while he was at work. She could work and be home before he ever arrived and he would never have to know.
Sara looked at the numbers she'd written down and sighed. Her finding a job was the only answer. She knew that if Dane ever found out, he'd be unbelievably angry with her. She knew, however, that it was the only way they could make it. She'd earn some extra money and hide it away to pay bills without him ever knowing; and she could always secretly alter his books to reflect the inflow of extra cash.
With a sigh, Sara got up from the desk and reached for her jacket. She still had time to go job hunting before Dane arrived home. She just prayed that she could find work that would pay enough to solve their problems.
THE GARDENS RESTAURANT
"It looks like your wife has decided to finally move on with her life." Annabelle tried to hide her smile as she motioned toward Fred and Francis. "I can't believe she's out to dinner with the good doctor. It must be a date."
"How can you be so sure that they're on a date?" Charles grumbled as he tried not to look at the other couple. "They both have connections to the hospital. They're probably just working on some charity function."
"Oh, of course! That has to be it." She slyly glanced in Charles' direction to see his reactions. "Why else would Francis be out with such a smooth charmer like Dr. Rutherford. Surely you've heard all the talk about him. He can be quite a ladies man. If he has his sights set on a particular woman, I doubt anything could prevent him from having her."
"I'm sure that's not the case here."
"They do look awfully cozy, though." Annabelle caught Fred's attention and cautiously nodded to him. She watched intently as he reached over to hold Francis' hand. "In fact, Charles, they're holding hands!"
Charles' head snapped up and he glared across the room to where Fred and Francis were sitting. They were holding hands! He felt his blood pressure begin to rise as he quickly looked away. He let out a deep sigh when he realized he had no right to be jealous. After everything he'd done to hurt her, he had no business passing any sort of judgment on her actions. Maybe this was a good thing. Maybe this was proof that she was actually trying to move past his betrayal.
"Charles, are you alright with this?" Annabelle asked as she reached across to hold his hand. "We could always leave."
"No, I'm fine," he muttered. He turned to face Annabelle and looked deeply into her eyes. Francis was moving on with her life and he needed to do the same. He couldn't obsess over her any more. He leaned in and kissed Annabelle passionately. He couldn't see the wide eyed look of shock and hurt that covered Francis' face as she witnessed the embrace.
"Algebra, Humanities, Biology...where does it all end?" Stephanie muttered to herself as she looked down at the stack of books in front of her. She'd never seen this much homework in her entire life. Why did they have to make college so difficult? Maybe she should have rethought her decision to better her education. She really hadn't done that well in high school. Of course, she'd had good grades, but she really hadn't taken very difficult classes.
She let out a sigh and tried to clear her head so that she could focus on the open American Literature book that lay in front of her. "I don't know why The Scarlet Letter is so important anyway."
"You're Stephanie Lake, aren't you?" the girl asked as she approached Stephanie's table.
"Um, yes, I am." Stephanie looked at her closely and tried to remember where she knew her from. She quickly realized that she didn't have a clue who she was. She clearly knew Stephanie, however. "I'm sorry, but you have me at a loss. I don't think I know who you are."
"I'm sorry," the girl smiled as she extended her hand. "I'm a friend of your cousin Sara. My name is Agnes Martin. I recognize you from campus. Sara has shown me lots of pictures of you two together."
Stephanie sighed when she remembered happier times when she and Sara had actually been close. Of course, that was long before Dane had entered the picture and had to ruin everything. If he had just kept his mouth shut about her part in their plans to separate Reginald and Jillian, everything would have been okay. If only those plans had succeeded.
"Well, I saw you sitting here and I just wanted to stop by and see if your copy of the exam did you any good."
"Copy of the exam?" Stephanie looked at Agnes awkwardly. What in the devil was she talking about? "Um...yes, it did wonders. I don't know...what I would have done without it."
"Great! I told Sara that it would be just the thing to ease your nerves. I guess working in the admissions office does have its advantages." Agnes laughed warmly. "Well, I guess I better let you get back to your studies. I just wanted to see if that copy of the admissions exam helped."
"Um, yes, thank you." Stephanie watched Agnes walk away and lifted her hand to her chin as she thought. "What in the world was that girl talking about?" she muttered to herself. "What exam?" She considered what Agnes had said about Sara and quickly realized that something was going on. But what?
THE GARDENS RESTAURANT
"I guess I'm destined to run into Charles and Annabelle at ever turn," Francis sighed as she watched her husband and his mistress closely. "Of course Albanyville isn't the largest of cities, so guess it's bound to happen."
"If you're uncomfortable, we can always go somewhere else." Fred gave Francis' hand a little squeeze to show his support. "You really don't have to subject yourself to this."
"No, Fred. Thank you for the offer, but I can't let Charles' presence dictate where I go and who I see." She tried to tear her eyes away from the other couple, but her focus kept returning to Charles and Annabelle's blatant displays of affection. "I can't let him see that his tawdry little acts affect me."
"But they do affect you, Francis." Fred tried to draw her attention in his direction. "How could you spend so much of your life with him and not be affected?"
"Oh, don't get me wrong," she said as she looked down at her hands, "I'd be lying if I said that this all didn't tear me apart inside. But I have to prove that what he does and who he sees is no longer of any concern to me. I have to show him that I'm stronger than that...whether I truly am or not."
"Are you sure you can do that?"
"I have to." Francis looked up and toward Charles and Annabelle again. "I finally realize what kind of fool I've been for so long now. Everything I've ever believed about my husband and my marriage now seems to have been nothing more than a grand illusion. I-I have to get on with my life. I have to move on and put Charles and all the pain he's caused in my past."
"Maybe that really is for the best." Fred grabbed Francis' hand again and smiled warmly at her. "Maybe it's the best thing for everyone involved."
THE PAGE TURNER BOOKSTORE
"Thank you, anyway," Sara sighed as she turned and walked away from the counter. Finding a job was harder than she'd thought it was going to be. She couldn't find anyone that needed help. The florist down the street, the cafe next door, the department store; no one needed help. In fact, most places she'd tried were already horribly overstaffed. She just had to find a job so she could help out with her and Dane's finances.
She sat down on a bench next to a shelf of books and cradled her chin in her hands. Either people didn't need help or they couldn't meet her schedule requirements. She could only work in the evenings while Dane was at the plant.
"Oh, hello, Sara." Trevor sat down the book he'd been skimming through and smiled at her.
"Oh, hi, Trevor. What are you doing here?"
"Just waiting for Grace to finish her shift. Mind if I join you?" He sat down next to her and quickly noticed that something was on her mind. "You okay?"
"I'm fine," she sighed, "just thinking. So, I guess you and Grace are becoming something of an item, hum?"
"Um, well, I wouldn't exactly put it like that." Trevor looked away and blushed slightly. He wished he and Grace were an item, but it hadn't really happened yet. True, they were growing closer, but Grace still held on to her desire to only be friends. "Congratulations on your wedding." He wasn't sure about the intelligence behind Dane and Sara's marriage, but offering warm wishes seemed like the polite thing to do.
"Thank you." Sara smiled as she thought about how happy she'd been on her wedding day. "I guess Grace is all upset that, now that he's married, she can't worm her way into Dane's heart. I told her that he was a lost cause as far as she was concerned."
Trevor bristled slightly when he was reminded of Grace's intense crush on Dane Manchester. "I think Grace got over her feelings for Dane quite some time ago. Especially after she finally saw exactly what kind of man he truly is. I can't believe that, as smart as you are, you can't see the same thing."
"Why must everybody persist in bad mouthing my husband?" she snapped. "Aren't there better topics of conversation in this town than what rumored misdeeds Dane's accomplished? Last I checked, your family wasn't living up to their sterling reputation very well." Sara's hand flew up to her mouth in an unsuccessful attempt to stop her impetuous comments from escaping. "I-I'm sorry, Trevor. I had no right saying that."
"It's okay. Trust me, I don't agree with anything that's going on between my parents and your aunt Annabelle." He shook his head as if in an attempt to cast off the thoughts that plagued him concerning Charles and Annabelle and Francis. "What can I do? It's their lives, not mine. I can't control my father's actions. The only thing I can do is support my mother throughout this horrible ordeal."
"I just hope your feelings for my aunt don't carry over to me."
"Hardly! You are nothing like Annabelle or Stephanie, for that matter."
Sara scrunched her nose up as she made a face. "Don't bring Steph up. I don't want to talk about her." She still hadn't forgiven her cousin's machinations in separating her and Dane. In fact, she wasn't sure she ever could.
"So, what's got you sitting over her so down?" Trevor inspected her closely. She really was trying hard to put on a happy face, but she couldn't completely hide the look of doom and gloom that she'd shown when he first saw her.
"Oh, nothing. I'm fine, really." She sighed and looked away from him. She was too embarrassed by her and Dane's money problems to voice her concerns.
"I'm supposed to believe that?" He reached out and grabbed her hand to hold her attention. "I'm really good at listening. Maybe it would help if you talked about it."
Sara looked up at him and considered what he'd said. Maybe he could help. But knowing how he felt about Dane, could she really trust him?
TO BE CONTINUED
Charles has an idea on how to get information on what Thornton's up to.
For Now and Forever
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