For Now and Forever
EPISODE #33 (Wednesday
THE PAGE TURNER BOOKSTORE
"Sara, you can't sit here and tell me nothing's wrong," Trevor said as he reached out to take her hand. "Why, it's written all over your face. Are you having problems with Dane?"
"No! There is nothing wrong with my marriage to Dane!" She snatched her hand away and quickly turned her head. "Why is everyone so negative about my marriage?"
"Well, if there isn't a problem with your marriage to Dane, then what's wrong?"
She turned back to look at him and took a deep breath. Maybe she should confide in Trevor about her financial problems. Maybe he could help her find a job. However, Sara wasn't sure she could trust him to keep everything a secret.
"Honestly?" Sara asked as she still weighed the pros and cons of confiding in Trevor. "Well...since Dane and I married, we've had...well...some financial problems."
"What? How? I thought Dane was pretty well off."
"His parents are well off. Dane, however..." She lowered her head in embarrassment over her troubles. She hated letting anyone know what kind of problems she was having, but she did realize that maybe she couldn't fix this one on her own. "Anyway, his parents weren't too keen on the idea of his getting married and told him that if he thought he was old enough to have a wife, he was old enough to support himself on his own."
"They didn't want him marrying you?" Trevor laughed at the thought. "That's a switch. With everyone I know, it's the other way around. I'd think they'd be happy to have you as a daughter-in-law. You're the only person I know that can keep him in line. You're the best thing for him!"
"Apparently, they don't exactly hold the same opinions of me." Why, she wasn't sure. She'd never even met any of Dane's family. "Well, since we're financially on our own, we've been having a few problems."
"Basic living expenses, Dane's college tuition..." Sara paused and swallowed. It was very difficult for her to confess her problems. "He's been working at the printing plant at night after his classes, but he's not making enough money to support the both of us and pay for school. I knew we were having money problems, but I didn't realize exactly how bad they were until I did a little checking of my own into our finances. I-I'm not sure we're gonna have enough money to even make rent next month."
"Oh, my god, I didn't realize things were so rough for you two." Trevor put his arm around Sara and gave her a comforting hug. True, he never really cared for Dane. His interference in Reginald and Jillian's relationship only intensified that dislike. Sara, however, was a different story. He'd known her casually for years through Annabelle and had always thought she was an exceptionally bright and sweet girl. A little headstrong, of course, but he'd always attributed that to a rather troublesome home life growing up.
"I-I'm trying to find a job to help out with the bills."
"What can I do to help?"
"Well...first of all, Dane must never know I'm doing this." Sara realized that if she was going to let Trevor help her, she had to be up front about Dane's forbiddance of her working. "He insists that I can't have a job. He feels it's some kind of affront to his manhood or something. He thinks that because he's my husband, he should be the one taking care of me...that it's his duty. Under normal circumstances, I'd agree that's the way things are supposed to be. However, sometimes dire situations call for drastic measures."
"You're trying to find a job behind Dane's back?" He eyed her closely. He really didn't like the sound of that idea and wasn't sure he wanted to be involved in this sort of deception. "Are you sure that lying to your husband is a good way to start your marriage?"
"I don't have a choice!" She began to grow anxious and fidgeted in her seat. Was Trevor going to help her or not? "Look, it's not like I'm doing this out of spite. It's for his own good, whether he wants to admit it or not! I can't let Dane give up on his dreams because of me. I can't stand around playing the helpless little housewife when I can work and help support us. He just can't ever know what I'm doing!"
"And how do you think you're going to accomplish this?"
"Well...like I said, Dane's been working at the printing plant at night. I'm home all alone with nothing to do. If I can find some kind of job where I can work at night after classes are over and be home before he gets home, he'll never know." Sara slowly began to wring her hands. All this talk about her personal life and her problems with Dane was beginning to make her upset.
"What about the extra money? Don't you think he's going to notice that?" Trevor began to go over the logistics of Sara's plan in his head. It could work, but there were parts of it that weren't adding up.
"Dane's a very careful bookkeeper, I admit, but I'm also smarter than he is." She blushed slightly at that confession. She hated to feel superior to her husband, but she was fully aware that, in some instances, she was. Though he did keep immaculate records, his accounting skills weren't the best in the world. She was working towards a business degree, after all. "Look, it's not going to be that difficult for me to alter his records to reflect the extra money. He'll just think we're doing better at budgeting our funds than we thought we were. I know Dane. This is going to work. It has to work."
"I-I don't know about this deception, Sara." Trevor lifted his hand to his chin and began to think. True, the sneakiness of it all bothered him, but she did have many valid points. She had clearly thought this through.
"Please, Trevor! Help me! I've looked all over town and there's not a single job to be found anywhere!" Sara's head sunk in desperation. "I've tried waitressing, store clerk, everything! Isn't there something I can do at the newspaper or Callison Publications?"
"Sara, I really don't think we need anybody. The job market is kinda tough right now. You know that. Dane's pretty lucky to have gotten on at the printing plant. There are always tons of guys lined up every day for work there." He looked at Sara and saw the hopelessness that clearly showed in her eyes. Finally, he let out a sigh of defeat. "Okay. I'll check. Maybe I can come up with something."
"Oh, thank you, Trevor, thank you!" She flung her arms around him and gave him a huge hug. "I knew I could count on you!"
"Sara, I'm not making any promises. I really don't know if there's anything I can do, but I'll check."
"That's all I'm asking." She smiled as her sense of hope quickly returned. "This'll work! You'll see!" Because, if it didn't, Sara realized that it wouldn't be long before she and Dane were out on the street.
THE SUNSET HOTEL - MARY'S PENTHOUSE
"Calvin!" Mary exclaimed as she opened the door to find her housekeeper's son standing on the other side. "Oh, it's been so long since I've seen you. My, haven't you grown up! Please, come in!" Mary smiled as she led him into the living room.
"How have you been, Mrs. Albany?" Calvin asked politely as he stood with his hat in his hand.
"As well as can be expected considering everything that's going on in Francis' life right now." Her thoughts drifted to her daughter's troubled marriage, but she quickly pushed those thoughts aside. "Calvin, your mother isn't here right now. She's gone to the market to run a few errands for me. She should be back soon. Can I get you a cup of coffee?"
"Um, no Mrs. Albany. Thank you, anyways." Calvin carefully glanced around the room. Though it was furnished in a rather elegant style befitting the hotel, Mary had been diligent in adding her own homey touches. The penthouse now had an air of both stringency and warmth. He held back a small laugh when he realized that the decor was much like Mary herself. "Actually, I'm not here to see Momma. I'm here to see you, Mrs. Albany."
"Really, Calvin?" Mary eyed him closely. She'd known him since he was a boy and had always admired how Dorothea had instilled such a strong sense of respect and manners in him. Now, however, those manners seemed to be tinged with something else. What, she wasn't quite sure. "Well, have a seat. We'll chat until your mother gets back."
"I would prefer to stand." Calvin's expression turned dour. He couldn't allow himself to be swayed by Mary's false displays of kindness. "Mrs. Albany, I've come here to talk with you about my mother."
"Why do you make it sound so serious? We're all like family. Come sit next to me and tell me what's on your mind." She patted a spot next to her on the sofa.
"We are not family, Mrs. Albany." He glared at her and noticed the shock on her face due to his firm statement. "In fact, I would prefer that my mother no longer work for you. I would like you to fire her."
"What? Have you lost your mind?" Mary's hand flew up to her chest in shock. She couldn't believe what she was hearing. "I will do no such thing! Dottie's been with me for years. I-I don't know what I'd do without her."
"I am tired of my mother working her fingers to the bone like a slave. She's better than that!"
"So that is what this is all about!" Mary quickly stood and approached him. "Now you listen to me, young man, because I'm about to tell you a thing or two!"
Dorothea walked briskly along the path as she carried a bouquet of flowers and a bag of fresh fruit. She smiled as she mused how Miss Mary loved the smell of fresh flowers around her home. Her smile grew when she caught sight of a familiar face in the distance.
"Hannah!" she called out as she approached the Callison family's longtime housekeeper. "So good to see you!"
"I've been aiming to stop by and pay you a call, but things have been so hectic around the house what with Mrs. Callison being gone." Hannah hated seeing the problems that her employers were having. They'd been such the perfect couple for so long. Now Mr. Callison was carrying on with that dreadful Lake woman. How he could do such things was beyond her.
"Well, Miss Francis isn't dealing too well either." Dorothea quickly glanced from Hannah to Mrs. Oliver who was standing next to her. "I hope I haven't interrupted anything."
"Oh, no, dear, not at all." Hannah gasped when she realized that she hadn't made proper introductions. "Dorothea, this is Mrs. Oliver. She's the housekeeper for the Monroe family."
"How do you do?" Dorothea smiled as she extended her hand.
"I-I'm fine." Mrs. Oliver looked down at Dorothea's outstretched hand and grimaced as she hesitated. Finally after too long a wait, she reached out and gave Dorothea's hand a quick shake. The subtle gesture was not lost on Dorothea.
"Hmm...the Monroes? Isn't that the family that lost both parents in a plane crash about this time last year?"
"Yes. What a tragedy. I've stayed on to help care for the boys." Mrs. Oliver quickly looked around for Todd and smiled when she saw he was still close by. "Todd! Don't you run off!"
"What a darling little boy!" Dorothea exclaimed as she watched the child. With a big grin, Todd quickly ran over to the ladies.
"I'm Todd," he grinned as he stuck out his hand to Dorothea. "I'm almost 6!"
"Really? Wow!" Dorothea knelt down to his level and prepared to shake his hand. Her smile quickly faded when Mrs. Oliver subtly pulled him away.
"Hannah, dear, we really must get going," Mrs. Oliver said as she kept Todd behind her. "I still have to get dinner ready and Paddy should be home from class shortly."
"I understand. Give that boy a big hug for me." Hannah waved as Mrs. Oliver and Todd walked away and then turned to Dorothea. "You have to excuse her. She's quite a bit set in her ways."
"I-I understand," Dorothea muttered as she looked down at her hands. She sighed when she realized that in working for Miss Mary, she'd forgotten how the real world could be. Miss Mary was so different from everyone else. To her, the color of her skin didn't really matter. She thought of her more as a person than as a race. Dorothea had forgotten that to most other people she was only a colored woman. Had Calvin been reminded of that one too many times in his journeys out in the world? "I-I really have to be going, myself."
"I'll try to stop by and chat latter this week!" Hannah called out as Dorothea quietly walked away. She sighed and then hung her head. Her thoughts then quickly turned to the laundry she still had to do as she, too, began her journey out of the park.
THE SUNSET HOTEL - MARY'S PENTHOUSE
"I will have you know that I in no way think of your mother as a slave!" Mary glared at Calvin as she stood nose to nose with him. "Why, Dottie is one of the best things to happen to my family! She has been a devoted employee to me for years. I don't know what I'd do without her!"
"Well, I guess you need to be finding out!" Calvin folded his arms across his chest defiantly. "I refuse to let her work for you any longer!"
"You refuse? Young man, I don't believe you have any say in the matter! Where Dottie works and for whom is her decision, not yours!"
"She just doesn't know what's best for her." He turned away from her. He was quickly growing frustrated. He didn't expect her to understand what he was talking about, but why did she persist in being so difficult? "She just doesn't know any other way to live. I want her to have a better life than she has now!"
"Of course you do! You want better for her just like I want better for Francis and for my grandchildren. We all want better for the people we love and care about." Mary furrowed her brow now that she was facing the back of his head. "Calvin Tyrone Jackson, you look at me when I'm talking to you!"
Calvin winced at the use of his full name. Just like his mother, Mary had the annoying habit of addressing him like that whenever she was angry. He slowly turned to face her again. He let out a heavy sigh as he suddenly felt like he was 12 years old again.
"You're mother is more than just an employee to me, Calvin. She's my best friend and the one person I can trust in this life to be totally honest with me." Mary reached out and grabbed his arm to hold his attention. "And I take great offense that you would presume to think that I regard her as merely some slave left over from the old south. How dare you! Do you think that little of me?"
"No, ma'am," he muttered as he lowered his head. "It's just that..."
"Enough! You get these foolish thoughts out of your head this instant! If your mother chooses to quit, then it will be her choice! Not mine and definitely not yours! I pray that won't happen because I don't know what I'd do without her."
"Now, if you have nothing else to say, I'm through discussing this with you." Mary let go of his arm and slowly walked away. "You're excused and free to go."
Stunned by his dismissal, Calvin gritted his teeth and quickly headed for the door.
THE CALLISON HOME - CHARLES' STUDY
"Father?" Trevor spoke up as he rapped lightly on the door. "Are you busy?"
"No, Trevor," Charles sighed as he looked up from a manuscript he'd been reviewing. "I just got home from having dinner with Annabelle and I'm going over some submissions from unpublished authors. What's on your mind?"
"Well, do you know of any open positions at the office or maybe at the paper?" Trevor walked into the room and sat down in the chair that was in front of his father's' desk. He began to fidget nervously in his seat. Why did he feel so awkward around his father now? Was it because of everything that had happened between his parents? Trevor strongly disapproved of his father's behavior and his continued dalliances with Annabelle Lake, but he realized that his opinions really didn't matter. Why couldn't his father just listen to reason and try to make things up to his mother? He sighed and quickly pushed his parents' problems out of his head. That wasn't what he wanted to talk about.
"Actually, no, son." Charles leaned back in his chair and watched Trevor closely. His son had been avoiding him for weeks now. He was sure it was because of everything that had gone on between him and Francis. Why was he talking to him now? "Everything's filled. In fact, we're over staffed as it is. What's going on? Why are you asking about job openings? This must be something pretty important. You've been awkwardly dancing around me for quite a while now. It's because of what's going on between me and your mother, isn't it?"
"I don't want to talk about that!" Trevor shot up out of his seat and walked over to one of the large bookcases and began to aimlessly scan the assorted titles. "I'm not here to talk about what ever childish escapades you've got going on."
"Then what is this about? It sounds pretty important."
"Well, actually..." Trevor paused and turned to face his father. "Annabelle's niece Sara is trying to find a job. Apparently, since she and Dane got married, they've had quite a few financial problems. They're finding it hard to pay bills and pay for Dane's college."
"I already got Dane a job at the printing plant as a favor to Annabelle. What else am I supposed to do?" Charles was beginning to grow irritated. He wasn't in the habit of giving handouts.
"Sara is trying to find a job," Trevor continued. "However, Dane refuses to let her work. He thinks that he should be entirely responsible for their support."
"That's an admirable position."
"But it's not enough. Sara realizes this and she can't convince him otherwise. She's trying to find a job so she can secretly help with their finances without him knowing."
"I don't know if you should be getting involved in helping Sara keep things from her husband." Charles didn't like the idea of interfering in the Manchester marriage. They should be left to work out their problems on their own.
"That's not what I'm doing! I'm just trying to help Sara find a job while Dane's at the plant. Without the extra money she could provide, they really don't have much of a chance. It's just that he can't know anything about it."
"Hmmm." Charles lifted his hand to his chin as he thought. Suddenly, an earlier telephone conversation sprung to mind. "Actually, I was talking to Thornton Preston earlier. He was going on about trying to get out of his contract. I was really only half hearing him, but I clearly remember him mentioning something about trying to find an assistant while he was in town. You know, someone to type and run errands and the like." He paused to think again and a smile began to spread across his face. "You know, Trevor, I think I have an idea."
"You do?" Trevor eyed him closely.
"Yes." He again leaned back in his chair and displayed a satisfied grin. "And I think this is going to be beneficial to Preston, Sara, and to us."
TO BE CONTINUED
Fred makes a move.
For Now and Forever
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