For Now and Forever
EPISODE #36 (Monday
THE SUNSET HOTEL - JILLIAN'S SUITE
"I'm coming!" Jillian called out as she strode quickly to the door. Her last class at Albanyville University had run over and now she was late for a late lunch meeting. The last thing she needed were interruptions. As she pulled the door open, her jaw dropped and her eyes grew wide with shock. "Oh, my! W-what are you doing here?"
"Mother has sent me to get Janet. She's been here in Albanyville entirely too long!"
As Jillian stood and gave a silent prayer that she would have the strength to survive her visit, Judith Stokes Linford walked briskly into the room.
"Um, hello," Sara smiled nervously as Helga opened the front door. "I-I'm Sara Manchester. I'm supposed to start work as Mr. Preston's assistant today."
"Ah, yes," Helga replied as she carefully inspected Thornton's new employee. "If you'll follow me..."
Sara stepped through the front door and quietly trailed along behind Helga as she walked towards the study. As she followed, Sara's eyes quickly took in the elaborate trappings of the home. From all the time she'd spend looking at magazines and the society column of The Daily Post, she quickly recognized the intricate details in the furnishings that denoted wealth.
"If you'll wait in here, Mr. Preston will be with you shortly," Helga said as she pulled the large wooden doors of the study open. "He's a very busy man. Don't waste his time."
"Oh, I don't intend to." Sara tried to smile in spite of her awkward feelings. "I'm supposed to be here to help him since he is so busy. I'm sorry, I didn't catch your name."
"I didn't give it. I'm Miss Grimm. I'm Mr. Preston's housekeeper. I've been with him for many years."
Sara extended her hand for a warm greeting, but her smile quickly faded when Helga refused to recognize her display of politeness.
"I don't know why Mr. Preston had to go to all the trouble of hiring an assistant. I've done very well on my own. He doesn't need anyone else." Helga continued to eye Sara closely. There just was something not right about her.
"Maybe Mr. Preston thinks it's time to give you a break. Maybe he doesn't want to burden you with too much."
"And that's exactly the reason!" Thornton's voice announced his arrival as both Helga and Sara turned to find him standing in the doorway. "Now, Helga, bring us some coffee and leave me and Sara alone to have a chance to get acquainted."
"Yes, sir." Helga curtly nodded, walked out of the room, and pulled the doors closed.
"Mrs. Manchester, I'm Thornton Preston," he smiled as he extended his hand.
"S-so nice to meet you."
"Tell me about yourself, Mrs. Manchester." Thornton slowly walked about the room as he listened to her and analyzed her every movement.
As Sara began to give a brief description of her background, Helga stood quietly in the foyer with her ear pressed to the study doors. There was something about Sara that made Helga uneasy. She didn't trust her at all.
ALBANYVILLE GENERAL HOSPITAL
As the ladies auxiliary meeting concluded, Francis carefully gathered up her notes and began to head for the door. She didn't feel like spending any more time with these women than absolutely necessary.
"Francis, dear, leaving so soon?" the familiar, yet unfriendly voice called after her.
"Yes, Corinne, I have lots of other things to do today." Francis maintained her cool exterior as she turned to face Corinne Campbell, the chairwoman of the ladies auxiliary. "I really don't have time to chitchat."
"Yes, I'm sure." Corinne smiled thinly. "I know you've had quite a few difficulties lately." She casually smoothed an imaginary strand of stray hair back into place in her perfectly coifed hairdo. "I hope your, shall we say, problems aren't going to interfere with your auxiliary duties."
"I'm here, aren't I?" Francis glared at her. She'd never liked Corinne because she always seemed too interested in what was going on in everyone else's lives. Surely her life with her own husband wasn't so boring that she had to be so concerned with what everyone else was doing.
"Well, I'm just concerned because I hope that you'll have time to head this year's fundraiser for the foundlings home," Corinne eyed Francis closely. "You know, what with all of the problems you've been having."
"Whatever 'problems' I've been having are just that...mine!"
"Dear, I'm so sorry. I didn't intend to hit a sore spot." Corinne lifted a carefully manicured finger up to her chin as she continued to fix her smug gaze on Francis. "I just know that this must be a very difficult time for you considering how your husband has cast you aside for another woman."
"I'll thank you to keep your thoughts to yourself!" Francis quickly turned to leave and escape Corinne's callous comments.
"You know, darling, I've been curious. Exactly what must a wife do to force her husband to seek comfort in the arms of another woman?"
Francis spun around to face Corinne again as she felt her face begin to burn. Silently, she fought to suppress the reaction that Corinne was trying so hard to elicit.
THE WISHING WELL SODA SHOPPE
"Look! There he is!" Eliza exclaimed as she grabbed Maggie and pulled her close. "I just knew Randy would show up here after school!"
"I don't understand how you can get so worked up over him, of all boys!" Maggie rolled her eyes as she pulled away from Eliza's grasp. "Surely you can find someone better to obsess over."
"I just don't think there's a boy neater than Randy." Eliza swooned as she watched Randy closely. "C'mon, let's go talk to him."
"I am not going anywhere near him! Have you lost your mind?"
"You said you'd help me convince him to ask me to the dance." Eliza glared at Maggie. "You're not backing out on me!"
"Oh, all right," Maggie muttered as let out an exasperated sigh. Quite reluctantly, Maggie allowed Eliza to drag her over to where Randy Lamont was sitting.
"Hi, Randy," Eliza spoke up timidly as she and Maggie stood in front of him.
"Hi, Eliza." Randy smiled before turning to face Maggie. His expression immediately grew more stern. "Maggie."
Maggie sighed again and folded her arms across her chest before rolling her eyes and quickly looking away. Her teeth clinched as Eliza tugged on her sleeve. "Hello, Randy," she muttered quite resistantly. Why did Eliza insist on getting her involved in her plans?
"Look, Maggie, I'm staying away from you." Randy held up his hands and slowly backed away. "I've got no intention of getting close enough to spill anything on you."
"And I appreciate that." Maggie looked sternly at him until a sharp jab in the ribs, supplied by Eliza, refocused her attention on the matter at hand. She quickly put on her best "social" face and smiled at Randy. "So, the big fall dance is coming up. Have you made plans for it, yet?"
"Um, no. Actually, I haven't." He looked at her curiously. Why was Maggie now acting like she was supposed to be his best friend? "In fact, I really wasn't planning on going."
"Oh, you simply have to go! It's the biggest social event of the semester. The only thing bigger is the prom and that's not until next spring!" Maggie fought to keep her smile cemented to her face. Why did Eliza persist in doing this to her?
"So, I take it you girls are going?"
"Well, I am." Maggie smiled. "I've already been asked. Eliza, however..." She grabbed her friend and pushed her forward, closer to Randy. "Let's just say that none of the boys have quite had the nerve."
"I find that hard to believe." Randy smiled at Eliza. "As pretty as you are, Eliza, I'd figure that boys would be standing in line."
"Oh, Randy, you say the nicest things!" Eliza turned her head in mock embarrassment and feigned a blush while Maggie subtly rolled her eyes. "But, I guess the other boys are just too shy. I really want to go to the dance, but there's no way I'd even think of going alone. It just wouldn't be proper!"
"I have an idea!" Maggie spoke up, right on cue. "Randy, you don't have any plans for the dance! Why don't you take Eliza? That way you both can go." Please, let him say "yes" so I can get this over with.
"I-I don't know." Randy quickly looked from Maggie to Eliza and then back again. This was all entirely too odd. Why was Maggie being so nice to him now? Suddenly, he looked down at his watch. "Um, I'm really sorry, but I've got to go. I'll see you both in school."
"Well, so much for that bright idea!" Maggie said as she turned to Eliza while Randy quickly walked out the door. "I certainly hope you don't have any other plans up your sleeve."
"Oh, I don't know why he didn't ask me." Eliza sank down into a chair and began to sulk. "I've just got to find some way to get him to ask me to that dance."
Maggie looked at Eliza and simply shook her head. She still couldn't understand why she was so hung up on a mutt like Randy.
ALBANYVILLE GENERAL HOSPITAL
"Corinne, I really don't think the state of my marriage is any of your business!" Francis snapped as she glared at her. "I really can't believe you don't have anything better to do that worry about what my husband is doing!"
"Well, Francis, dear, people do talk." Corinne maintained her cool exterior as she looked at Francis rather smugly. "I can only go on what I've heard people say."
"So, since I know you're just dying to tell me, what have people been saying?" Francis folded her arms across her chest and braced herself for the worst.
"Darling, you know I'm not one to spread such horrible tales," Corinne said as she gently took Francis' arm and began to speak as if they were life long friends, "but you really should know what people are saying about you."
"And she should also know that you are the one doing most of the talking!"
Both Francis and Corinne quickly turned toward the sound of Dr. Fred Rutherford's voice as he came walking into the room.
"I beg your pardon?" Corrine's hand flew up to her chest in indignation. "Are you trying to imply that I'm spreading vicious gossip about poor Francis here?"
"I'm not making an implication, I'm making a statement of fact!" Fred grabbed Francis' arm and gently pulled her to his side to allow space between the two women. "Why, this entire hospital knows that the three fastest ways of spreading information are telephone, telegraph, and tell Corinne Campbell!"
"I have never been spoken to so rudely!"
"I sincerely doubt that." Fred muttered only halfway under his breath.
"Apparently, Dr. Rutherford, you've forgotten who my husband is! He is chief of staff and your boss!"
"I don't care who you're married to! I cannot allow you to spread such unseemly drivel!" Fred continued to stare at Corinne with a firm gaze. He was very pleased when she began to back down.
"Well, I see," she replied tightly. "Let me leave you two alone. Whether you like to believe it or not, I have much more important things to do than worry about Mrs. Callison and her sordid marital woes. Good day, Dr. Rutherford." And with those words, Corinne clinched her jaw and quickly rushed out of the room.
"Are you all right?" Fred asked as he turned to face Francis. "That harridan didn't upset you too much, did she?"
"No, Fred, but thank you." Francis took a deep breath and looked down at the floor. "I've known Corinne for quite some time now and I know exactly how she can be. It's one of the reasons I try not to socialize with her outside of the auxiliary meetings."
"She really isn't happy unless she's got something to tell."
"And here you are, once again, coming to my defense." Francis lifted her head to look into Fred's eyes. "You always seem to be in the right place at the right time. I really owe you a lot."
"You don't owe me a thing Francis. In fact, I..."
"Dr. Rutherford?" a young nurse spoke up as she stood in the doorway. "You have a phone call."
"Um, yes, thank you." He turned back to face Francis. "I really would love to chat more, but duty calls."
"I'll see you soon!" Fred called out as he quickly walked out of the room and to the nurse's desk to pick up the phone. "Hello?"
"Dr. Rutherford!" the deep, ominous voice spoke up. "Do you have what we agreed upon?"
"I told you not to phone me here at the hospital." Fred nervously glanced around to see if anyone could hear his conversation. He just knew they were closing in on him. He didn't have much time. If he couldn't kick his own plan into gear, he knew he wouldn't stand a chance once they got hold of him.
THE SUNSET HOTEL - JILLIAN'S SUITE
"So, exactly what are you doing here?" Jillian questioned as she examined Judith closely. "I know you really don't care for Albanyville and I know good and well that you haven't come to pay me a social call."
"Just can't get anything past you, sister dear, can I?" Judith carefully walked around the room looking at all of Jillian's quaint mementos. Not really Judith's taste, of course, but they were okay. "Actually, I've come for Janet. She's been away far too long."
"Father knows she's here? He sent you to take her home?" Jillian's hand flew up to her mouth in shock. If their father truly knew that their mother had lied to him about Janet's true whereabouts, there would most definitely be trouble.
"Of course he doesn't know!" Judith shook her head and emitted a thin laugh. "Would I be the one here if he did? Why, if Daddy knew Janet were here, he'd come and drag her back to Manhattan himself!"
"Mother, of course. Daddy is getting suspicious, though. Janet supposedly only went away to an artists' retreat. She's been here almost a month! Some retreat!" Judith pulled her light jacket off and draped it over the back of the sofa before taking a seat to make herself more comfortable. "Mother is trying to make excuses for Janet and, for some reason, Daddy's buying them. I, however, knew something was up and questioned her about it."
"Badgered would be more like it," Jillian murmured to herself as she cautiously approached her sister.
"Did you say something, dear?"
"I asked if mother sent you."
"Well, yes. After I finally convinced her to tell me what was going on, she asked me to come to Albanyville and bring Janet home." Judith paused to brush an imaginary piece of lint off of her tailored skirt. "Supposedly, I'm off in Los Angeles shopping for the baby."
"You made that long trip in your advanced condition?" Jillian carefully examined a very expectant Judith. "I can't believe mother would ask you to do that!"
"Well, she did. She couldn't do it because Daddy would know something was amiss then!"
"So, when is the baby due?"
"The doctors say that it should be around the end of November." Judith looked down at her swollen stomach and grimaced. "About Thanksgiving, I believe. I can't wait to get this over and done with. You cannot imagine how tiring it is to carry this child around."
"For you, I can imagine." Jillian still couldn't believe Judith was having a baby. She'd never been the motherly type. "Well, I'm afraid you'll have to return to New York empty handed."
Jillian took a deep breath. "Janet has refused to ever go back. She says she's staying in Albanyville for good."
"She has to go back!" Judith began to wring her hands as a look of panic fell on her face. "You know Daddy! Mother can't keep him in the dark forever! He's going to figure out that we've all been lying to him. Once that happens, he'll come straight here and drag her home himself. You know what will happen then! You know what he's threatened to do!"
Jillian's face quickly mirrored Judith's frightened expression. She knew all too well what their father had threatened. She quickly realized that they had to convince Janet to return home or they would all have to live with the consequences for the rest of their lives.
TO BE CONTINUED
Lorraine receives advice from a trusted source.
For Now and Forever
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