For Now and Forever
EPISODE #40 (Friday
LERNER'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!"
"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.
"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
"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?"
"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!"
"I want to shout it from every rooftop in Albanyville," Burt said as his excitement began to grow. "I love you Janet Scott!"
Janet uncomfortably looked away. Janet Scott. She was supposed to be Janet Scott, not Janet Stokes. As warm and loving as Burt was, how could she keep on deceiving him? How could she lie to him about who she truly was?
"Janet? Are you all right?" He watched her closely. "I'd hoped that I would have gotten a little happier reaction from you."
"Oh, Burt, I'm so sorry!" she gasped when she realized that she hadn't hidden her worries and fears. "No, it's not you nor your love. I just have a lot on my mind. You really don't know how happy your love makes me. I-I love you, too. Oh, Burt, I love you so much!"
He swiftly rose from his chair and took her into his arms and their lips met in a tender yet passionate kiss. He loved her with all his heart. Burt was certain of it. Janet made him feel things that he'd never thought he'd feel again. She was so right for him.
Janet Scott. Janet Scott. The words rang in Janet's ears as she wrapped herself in Burt's warm embrace. Janet Scott. Although her body and heart were there with him in the cafe, her mind quickly begin to drift to another time and another place.
LORRAINE'S APARTMENT - LIVING ROOM
As Lorraine napped on the couch, her dreams were troubled. She tossed and turned as a myriad of images floated through her mind. The faces of Patterson and then Douglas began to invade her thoughts. Then the sound of a baby crying.
"You're a liar!" both Patterson and Douglas' voices called out. "A liar! You're horrible and evil! You're a liar!"
The dream quickly changed as their faces disappeared only to be replaced by a crowd of people. Everyone she knew was there! Trevor, Grace, Jillian, Mrs. Oliver.... They were all looking at her angrily and pointing at her just as Patterson and Douglas had.
Lorraine awoke with a jolt, her body drenched with sweat. She gasped for air as she ran her fingers through her damp, limp hair. She looked at her hands as they trembled and she realized that she couldn't take much more. Lorraine knew that if all the stress was beginning to affect her health, it had to be affecting the baby as well.
The voices still echoed in her head. Taking a deep breath, she reached over, grabbed the telephone, and quickly dialed a number. Lorraine tried to will her body to stop shaking, but realized that it was no use.
"Hello?" the voice on the other end of the line answered.
She swallowed hard and tried to keep her voice from trembling. "D-Douglas, it's Lorraine. I-I need to see you. I need to see you right away."
"Judith, you're just going to love this place," Jillian smiled as they walked up to the front door. "It has the best croissants that you'll find anywhere."
Judith carefully eyed the front of the building up and down. It sure wasn't anywhere close to being one of the ritzy five star restaurants that she was so accustomed to dining at in Manhattan. "I certainly hope the exterior isn't indicative of the interior," she replied. "Likewise for the food."
"Trust me! Reginald and I love it! We eat here at least a couple of times a week." Jillian reached out for the door and quickly swung it open.
As they stepped inside, Judith made a face as she scanned the room. Not exactly the clientele she was used to associating with, either. It was an odd mixture of business men, housewives on leisurely lunches, college kids, and dreadful blue color types. "Hmmm...I bet the Rockefellers or the Lindberghs aren't standing in line to get in. Look at that one over there!" She turned to cover her mouth as she whispered to Jillian. "Do you think he's got enough class to wash his hands before eating? Why, he looks like he's spent the entire day working on some sort of machinery!"
"He probably has, Judith." Jillian gritted her teeth and took a deep breath. She loved her sister dearly, but some days it took more effort than others to deal with her. "This place serves on eclectic mix of people. It has a broad class of clientele."
"I can see that!" Judith rolled her eyes and shook her head. As she wrinkled up her nose and made a face, she wondered if the dishwashers in back knew how to properly polish the silver. "Maybe we should turn around and go to The Gardens. I like that place. It's more our style."
"Nonsense. Let's just find a table. Once you have a bite of their divine cheesecake, you'll think you're in heaven." Jillian slowly began to lead her across the room when she caught sight of Janet sitting with a gentlemen at a back table. "Look! There's Janet and she's with someone. I bet that's that man she's been seeing."
Judith suddenly stopped dead in her tracks as the color began to drain from her face. She began to gasp slightly and reached out to grab Jillian's arm for support.
"Oh, stop being so stubborn," Jillian responded as she tugged on her sister to drag her forward. "I've wanted to meet this man for quite a while now. I want to know exactly who our sister is involved with."
"N-no," Judith muttered weakly. Her breathing grew shallow and her head began to spin. "J-Jillian."
"Judith?" Jillian turned to look at her sister and was horrified to find her face as white as a sheet. "Judith, what's wrong? Are you alright?"
Suddenly, a sharp pain ripped through Judith's abdomen as she doubled over in agony and crumpled to the floor.
"Oh, my god, Judith!" Jillian cried out as she dropped to her knees beside her now unconscious sister. "Oh, my god! Help! Someone help! Someone call a doctor!"
TO BE CONTINUED
Trevor takes Grace to visit her mother.
For Now and Forever
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