produced/written by G. Matthew Smith



EPISODE #40 (Friday 6/15/01) click here for a printable version of this episode
same day, October 1935

LERNER'S DEPARTMENT STORE

Judith LinfordLerner's Department Store"When you suggested we go shopping, I thought we'd go somewhere that had some...class," Judith said rather haughtily as she gently fingered the fabric of a blouse as it hung on the rack.  "Why these are merely rags!"

"Oh, Judith, this is the best department store in town!"  Jillian carefully picked up a hat and examined its fine detailing.  "They have some lovely things."

"I don't know why I expected 5th Avenue out in the middle of God's country."  Judith rolled her eyes and quickly released the blouse before wiping her hand as if she'd been contaminated.  She paused for a moment before turning to face her sister.  "Have you told Reginald anything about...well, about our family's little skeleton?"  Her voice was but a mere whisper.  She couldn't risk letting anyone, even one of the low class locals, hear the Stokes family's sordid past.

"No," Jillian responded firmly.  "And I don't intend to!"


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JOE'S CAFE

Joe's CafeBurt Lamont"I'm really sorry I left you here waiting on me for so long," Burt said as he held Janet's hand across the table.  "I just got caught up in...a family matter."

"Stop apologizing," she laughed.  "It's okay.  Besides, it gave me some time to decide what I want to eat."

"I was just afraid that I'd disappoint you."  He lowered his head slightly.  He so wanted to make her happy.  Janet Scott was unlike any girl he'd ever met before.  Kind, gentle, intelligent, honest...

"Burt, don't you realize by now that you could never disappoint me."  Her face nearly radiated as she spoke to him.  Oh, how Janet needed his love.  His love was the only thing strong enough to make her forget about the past.  She wanted to forget about everything that had happened before; how she'd been foolish, and naive, and....  She shook her head slightly as she tried to pry herself away from the memories that were beginning to haunt her again.

"I hope this makes up for it."  Burt reached into his pocket and pulled out a beautiful velvet box.

Janet gasped at the sight.  A gift!  Burt had bought her a gift!  But, it couldn't be....  No, she said to herself as she sighed.  It can't be an engagement ring.  It's too soon.  I know he's not ready for a step like that yet.  As her hand shook, she took the box from him and slowly opened it to see what was inside.  Janet inhaled sharply as the sparkle on the beautiful broach took her breath.

Janet Stokes"Oh, Burt!  It's gorgeous!"

"I-I wish I could have gotten you something more elaborate.  You know, something with real stones instead of those paste ones.  I just can't afford it yet."  Burt's face clouded over for a second as he thought about how he wanted to give Janet the world and how he couldn't.  How could you afford the world on a stable hand's salary?  No easier than he could've afford it on the pay of a bartender in New York.

"I don't care if it cost a million dollars or just a slug nickel!" she exclaimed as she fumbled to pin the broach to the collar of her blouse.  "Why do they insist on trying to make me believe that the true worth of a person is based on their bank account?  Because you gave it to me, this broach is the most valuable thing I own!"

"They?"  He looked at her curiously.  "Who tries to make you believe that?"

Janet's eyes grew wide in fear.  Had she slipped and said too much?  Had she been so caught up in the thrill of Burt's show of affection that she'd forgotten who she was supposed to be?  "I-I just mean society in general."  She swallowed hard and quickly looked away.  "P-people seem to think that all those wealthy society folks have everything; that they are the only ones that matter.  Well, they don't!  Those people are no better than everyone else.  They have problems and tragedies just like normal people."

"I know exactly what you mean," Burt sighed as he thought again about his mother's secret photo album and the mysterious pictures it contained.  "I'm so glad you like the broach.  I wanted to get you something special to mark a special day."

"Special day?  What special day?"  Janet's mind began to race as she tried to think.  Had she forgotten some important event?

He laughed warmly and reached across to take her hands into his.  "I wanted to give you something to always remember this day by because this is the day I tell you something very important."  He paused and took a deep breath.  "Today is the day I tell you 'I love you', Janet Scott.  I love you with all my heart."


LERNER'S DEPARTMENT STORE

Jillian StokesLerner's Department Store"I haven't said a word to Reginald and I don't intend to!" Jillian said flatly as she turned to flag down a salesgirl.  She'd seen a lovely scarf and wanted to know if they had any others in the same style.  More importantly, she did not want to have this conversation.

"Well, that's a good thing."  Judith continued to thumb though the racks of dresses and either rolled her eyes or wrinkled her nose at everything she saw.  "I really don't think that he or his family would be too thrilled about getting involved with our family if they knew what really happened all those years ago.  I've never said a word to Mark.  Of course, he's so involved with all the business connections that Daddy provides him that I don't think he'd care.  Daddy did do wonderful job keeping everything quiet, though, don't you think?"

"Yes, he did.  But at what price?"  Jillian sighed as she lifted her hand to cover her mouth as she was forced to remember how hard their father had worked to keep the scandal out of the press.  Still, there were nosy reporters who couldn't be paid off.  Bits and pieces had leaked into the papers.  However, it had all be explained away as malicious gossip spread by jealous business competitors.  Had their social standing been so priceless that they'd had to sacrifice the well-being of one of their own?

"I just can't understand how Daddy can be so closed minded to your marriage to Reginald after everything she did."  Judith turned to face her sister.  "Why his little fling with that urchin Stephanie is nothing compared to..."

"Can we please not talk about this?" Jillian interrupted as she threw up a hand to stop Judith in mid-sentence.  "I'm tired of constantly being reminded of what happened.  It's over!  That entire ordeal is part of the past.  Why can't we just leave it there?  Why do you and Reginald always have to be dragging it up?"

Judith Linford"So he has been asking questions!"  Judith's eyes lit up with realization. "Well, darling, don't tell him a thing!  Don't you say one word about what happened if you have any plans of going through with this wedding.  Janet has embarrassed our family enough.  You cannot allow what she's done to influence Reginald's feelings for you."

"Nothing will change his feelings for me!" Jillian insisted.  Why couldn't Judith let this go?  Why did she have to keep dwelling on it?  "Not father, not Janet, not D..."  She caught herself.  "Not anything!"

Judith looked at her oddly.  Jillian had been about to say something else.  But what?

"Look, I'm tired from all this talk.  Let's go grab a bite to eat."

"Wonderful idea!"  Judith looked down and gently rubbed her rounded stomach.  "This baby sure makes me hungry.  I can't want until it's all over with."

"Well, I know a quaint little cafe nearby."  Jillian grabbed her sister's arm and headed her towards the elevator.  "Trust me, you're going to love it!"