For Now and Forever
EPISODE #48 (Wednesday
SPRINGHILL MANOR - FOYER
As Sara Manchester slowly descended the staircase she could hear the faint voices of Thornton Preston and his housekeeper Helga Grimm across the foyer and in his library. She paused for a moment at the foot of the stairs as she tried to hear what they were saying. She grimaced slightly when she realized that the large wooden doors to the library were closed and that she could only hear their faint, muffled voices.
Suddenly, Thornton raised his voice to a near shout and Sara could clearly make out what he was saying.
"I will get out of this contract with Charles Callison if it's the last thing I do!" Thornton bellowed.
Realizing that this could be her moment to get the information that Charles had enlisted her to retrieve, she carefully crept over to the doors to listen closer.
THE SUNSET HOTEL - JUDITH'S PENTHOUSE - LIVING ROOM
"I just don't understand why you have to be so nasty to Janet," Jillian Stokes said as she sipped her tea. "What has she ever done to you? Do you have to take every opportunity to bring up what happened?"
Judith Linford stood at the large window that overlooked Albanyville with her arms folded securely across her chest. She gave no indication, verbal or physical, that she was even listening to her younger sister's concerns. Instead, she allowed her eyes to carefully follow the movements of her new maid Ruby Thomas as she maneuvered around the room.
"Ruby, dear, do you have to put that there?" Judith questioned with a stern glance.
"But, Mrs. Linford, I thought that's where you wanted them." Ruby held the crystal vase of flowers in her hand as she cautiously removed them from the side table.
"I said that table!" Judith extended her hand to point to the other table across the room. "Don't you listen?" She rolled her eyes, let out a deep sigh, and shook her head. "Honestly, I thought going through a service to find a maid would be much better than relying on this inadequate hotel staff. I'm beginning to rethink that decision."
"See, Judith, this is exactly what I'm talking about!" Jillian shot her a stern look as she rose from her seat and then walked over to her. "Why do you have to be so critical? It's not like you're the only perfect person on the planet and you've been elected to point out everyone else's faults!"
Judith turned to meet her sister's gaze and glared at her with irritation. "I fully realize that I'm not perfect. That part about me being elected to point out fault, I'm not so sure about." She smirked slightly as her eyes continued to follow Ruby around the room.
"Is this fine with you, Mrs. Linford?" Ruby asked as she stepped back from the floral arrangement.
"That's perfect! I knew you could do it if you tried." Judith reached out and grabbed a piece of paper off of her desk and breezed across the room to Ruby. "Now, take this list to the store and pick up a few things for me. I want exactly what's on that list and in the exact amounts that it says."
"Yes, ma'am," Ruby nodded before taking the list and looking over it quickly. She hurriedly grabbed her coat out of the closet and shoved the list in her pocket. Ruby knew that she didn't have a lot of time to get her errands done before she had to be back to start dinner. Judith was very specific about her dining times.
As Ruby rushed out of the apartment, Jillian eyed Judith closely. "You really shouldn't be so hard on her," she said as she followed Judith to the sofa. "She's new and it'll take time for her to learn the way you want things."
"What do you know?" Judith snapped. "Obviously, you've spent so much time in this dreary little town that you've forgotten what it's like to be taken care of like people of our social status are supposed to be."
Jillian shook her head slightly and looked away. Apparently Judith would never change.
SPRINGHILL MANOR - FOYER
Sara tried to hold herself very still as she pressed her ear against the door. She just had to know what Mr. Preston and Helga were discussing.
"Well, what did Mr. DeMille say about the movie?" she heard Helga ask. Movie? They must be talking about Tainted Woman, the film adaptation of Mr. Preston's last novel.
"He said that if he had to deal with Callison Publications to get the rights to it, then the deal's off!"
Cecil B. DeMille dealing with Callison Publications? Sara furrowed her brow as she thought. That didn't sound right. Why would he have to deal with them concerning Tainted Woman? Callison didn't have anything to do with that book.
"So, he's still wanting to deal with you directly?"
"Yes, and if I can't get out of this contract, that will be impossible!" Mr. Preston's booming voice sent vibrations through the door. "Cecil said specifically that if he can't work out the details for Conflict with me, then there won't be any deal! McBride was so difficult during the planning stages of that last movie that he's sworn to never deal with a publishing company again! My god, he can be so difficult!"
Sara bit her lip as she continued to listen. Her mind started to go over what little she'd heard as she tried to figure out what everything meant. Conflict? What conflict could Mr. Preston be referring to? Was it the conflict over his contract? Suddenly, her eyes lit up with realization. She shook her head slightly, not believing how foolish she'd been not to have seen the obvious. Helga and Mr. Preston weren't talking about a conflict, they were discussing The Manhattan Conflict, the book that he was supposed to deliver to Callison Publications, but was now holding out on.
Her mind raced as she tried to piece together the bits of information she'd overheard. She should have continued listening because she would have heard the muffled sounds of footsteps coming in the direction of the door.
As the large, wooden doors slid open to reveal Helga, Sara let out a sharp gasp and she quickly backed away. "U-umm, I was just..." she stammered as she tried to think of a logical reason for her eavesdropping.
"You were just spying!" Helga shouted as she pointed her finger at her. "Now you've been caught! Now we know exactly what you've been up to!"
A crisp autumn breeze whipped through the trees as Ruby Thomas hurried through the park in an effort to finish her errands and head back to the hotel. She pulled the collar of her jacket up around her neck, shifted her armload of packages, and carefully reviewed the list Judith had given her.
"I don't know why she can't get these things herself," she grumbled. "Why does she have to be so irritable?"
Working as a maid for Judith Linford had been a last resort for Ruby. She'd exhausted all other possible avenues of employment. She sighed when she realized that, although Mrs. Linford could be rather pushy, it would pay her enough so that she could make rent and put food on the table. Ruby said a silent prayer that she'd be able to put enough extra money back so that she could save up and go to college. Her mother's dying wish had been for her to get an education and make something out of herself. Easier said than done. An education cost money and that was most certainly something Ruby didn't have a lot of...yet.
"Hey, you better watch were you're going or you're gonna run over someone!"
Ruby stopped suddenly. She'd been so busy thinking about everything she had to get done that she hadn't been paying attention. Now she was standing mere inches from another park visitor. She blushed slightly at her clumsiness.
"I-I'm sorry," she smiled as she looked up at the rather handsome man. "I guess I was too busy thinking about some other things."
"I can see that," he laughed. He looked at her closely and found himself drawn to her bright smile and dark eyes. Realizing his rudeness, he quickly held out his hand to make formal introductions. "I-I'm sorry. I'm Calvin Jackson."
"Nice to meet you, Mr. Jackson," Ruby smiled. "I'm Ruby Thomas." She politely took his hand and smiled again.
"So, what brings you out into the park on this fine day?" Calvin couldn't take his eyes off of her. He found her quiet beauty rather breathtaking. She was truly the loveliest thing he'd ever laid eyes on.
"Just running some errands." She wanted to kick herself. Ruby was finding it strangely difficult to think of something to say.
"Well, it's a good day for that." He paused for a moment and took a quick glance around the park. "Would you mind if I walked with you?"
"Oh, um, no. Not at all." She shifted her packages from one arm to the next. They were starting to grow heavy, but, for some reason, she didn't actually mind.
"Here, let me help you with those," Calvin spoke up as he took them from her and they began to walk through the park. "So, um, do you live around here?"
"I have an apartment..." No, don't tell him where you live. That would be foolish. Why would you tell a complete stranger where you lived? "I live here in Albanyville, if that's what you're asking."
"I see." He nodded as he listened to her and gave her his complete attention. "I suppose you work here, too?"
"You sure ask a lot of questions," she laughed and then turned to face him.
"Sorry." It was now his turn to blush as he lowered his head in embarrassment. "I really didn't mean to pry."
"That's okay." Ruby glanced down at her watch and realized that she was starting to get way off schedule. "Um...I really have to get going. I've got a lot of things to do." She held out her arms to take back her packages.
"Oh, I'm sorry," Calvin muttered when he realized that he still held them in his arms. He slowly handed then back to her and his fingertips accidentally brushed her hand. "It was so nice to meet you, Miss Thomas." He paused for a moment and furrowed his brow. "It is 'Miss', isn't it?"
"Yes, it is." She smiled at him again. "Have a good day, Mr. Jackson." And with those words, Ruby quickly turned and hurried off to complete her chores leaving Calvin completely befuddled, yet enamored by her.
"Oh, Trevor, it's so beautiful!" Grace Davis gasped at they rode up to the edge of the lake. "Look at all the colors!"
"I told you that all the leaves would have turned by now." Trevor Callison climbed down from his horse Trouble and led him over to a tree where he securely tied him. "That's the best thing about this lake. It's beautiful out here no matter what time of year it is. You should see it when it's all frozen over in the winter and the snow is clinging to the branches of the trees."
"I bet it's wonderful!" She hopping down from her horse Triumph and followed Trevor's lead by tying the horse up, as well. She turned around to face Trevor and found him smiling broadly and emitting a slight chuckle. "What's so funny? Did I do something wrong? I did tie him up right, didn't I?"
"Yes, Grace, you did fine." He walked over to her and reached out to gently stroke her golden hair. "I'm laughing because I was thinking about the first time I brought you out here. You were terrified of that horse and now you ride him like you've done it all your life."
"Well, I guess some things change." She blushed slightly and lowered her head. When she looked back up at him, she clearly realized that some things did change. "And a lot of those changes are because of you."
"Me?" He put his hand on his chest and cocked an eyebrow slightly. "How is it because of me?"
"I would never have gotten on that horse if it hadn't been for you, silly." She slowly strolled over to the edge of the lake and sat down on a rock. A crisp breeze blew off the water and she shivered slightly.
"Grace, are you cold?" Trevor asked as he sat down beside her and put his arm around her.
"Not anymore." She cocked her head slightly and looked up at him. She remembered for a moment how he'd scared the life out of her one night on the docks. Oh, she'd been so furious with him. He always had this teasing way of being able to get under her skin. She'd been more than a little surprised to realize that once he'd gotten there, he had no intention of leaving.
"So, what're you thinking about?"
"About you," she confessed as she looked down at the ripples in the water, "and me. Trevor, you may not realize it, but you've had a big impact on my life. Even bigger than I've wanted to admit."
"Well, that horse, for one." She reached around and pointed at Triumph. "I would never, ever have gotten on one of those if you hadn't been here to push me into it. Now, I almost enjoy it." They both started to laugh with the easiness of longtime friends. "You've also made me realize that who my parents are and all the problems they had really doesn't have anything to do with me. Just because..." Her voice stuck in her throat. "Just because my father was an abusive drunk and my mother is locked up in a sanitarium doesn't mean that I'm going to be the same way."
"So that's what all those comments were about!" Trevor nodded as a light went on in his head. "You kept making little references to the kind of family I had and the life I'd come from. You were really just talking about the life you didn't have."
"I guess so." Grace blushed again, embarrassed by the confession. "You also convinced me to give my mother another chance. I would never have gone to see her if it wasn't for you."
"I know that's not easy for you. I know that a lot of the pain is still there." He pulled her closer to him and hugged her tightly.
"Yes, but I'm trying to get past that. I really am." Memories of her mother clouded her thoughts for a moment, but she quickly pushed them aside. "It is still difficult to see her, but I know it's something I have to do. Douglas could never get me to see that...only you could, Trevor." As he reached over and took her hand, she let out a soft sigh and looked up at him again. "Why, Trevor? Why do you have such an interest in me? Why do you try to guide me in the right direction?"
"Oh, Grace, isn't it obvious?" He placed his fingers gently on her chin and held her head so that their eyes met. "I love you. Can't you see that? I've been trying to convince you of that for months, now. From the moment I first laid eyes on you in Joe's Cafe, I haven't been able to think of anything else but you. I tried to fight it. Really, I did." He thought for a moment of Lorraine and the pain he'd caused her by leaving her because of his feelings for Grace. "But, when all was said and done, I couldn't ignore how I felt...how I feel."
Grace felt her heart begin to beat faster as she found herself lost in Trevor's eyes. It wasn't the first time and she knew it wouldn't be the last. They'd always had such a magnetic hold on her. Even when she was angry or apprehensive with him, all she had to do was look into his eyes and she'd forget all about it. Slowly, she leaned in to him and their lips met. The kiss was warm and gentle and she didn't try to fight it. Grace wrapped her arms around him and pulled him closer as their kisses grew in intensity. Was it happening? Was what Grace had fought for so long finally coming true? Was she actually letting herself fall in love with Trevor?
SPRINGHILL MANOR - FOYER
"I knew you couldn't be trusted!" Helga began to rant as Sara slowly backed away. "As soon as you walked into this house and I first laid eyes on you, I knew you were up to something!"
"N-no, y-you've made a mistake!" Sara's hands began to shake as her eyes quickly darted from Helga into the library and at Mr. Preston. "I wasn't spying! I swear!"
"You're lying!" Helga inched closer to her and began to point her finger. "How dare you come into this house under false pretenses and spy on Mr. Preston? Who? Who sent you? I bet it was that Mr. Callison, wasn't it?"
"Helga, that will be enough!" Thornton's voice boomed as he quickly walked towards them. "Leave Sara to me."
Sara's eyes grew wide with fear. She'd been caught! She hadn't been careful enough! Now, Mr. Preston was going to fire her. Without her position as his assistant, she'd be of no use to Charles Callison. She wouldn't have a job and she wouldn't have any money coming in to help her and Dane out of their financial mess. She knew Dane couldn't afford to support them and go to school. He'd have to drop out or they'd wind up homeless on the street. Everything had gone so wrong and it was all her fault!
"Exactly what were you doing listening at this door?" he asked as he kept his cold stared fixed on her.
"I-I wasn't listening! Honest!" She looked again at Helga and swallowed hard. "I-I was just bringing down some dictation I'd finished transcribing in your office upstairs." It wasn't a lie. That was what she was doing when she came upon their conversation. "I-I was just getting ready to knock when..."
"She's lying!" Helga broke in. "I told you she was up to no good!"
Thornton threw up his hand to silence Helga, but quickly felt the color drain from his face. As his vision began to blur, he squinted slightly to regain his focus. He was having another spell. They'd been coming more and more frequently during the past few weeks. He'd fought to keep them from both Helga and Sara and, so far, he'd been successful. Why did one have to happen now? Silently, he turned and walked back into the library and sat down behind his desk.
He took a deep breath and slowly felt himself returning to normal. His mind now focused on the matter at hand, he clearly realized what Sara had been up to. She had, in fact, been spying. It was what he'd suspected all along. Sara was really trying to get information for Charles Callison about why he wanted out of his contract. However, he now had much more pressing matters to deal with concerning Sara.
"Sara," he finally spoke as he looked at her intently. "Go home."
"I-I'm fired?" Her voice began to crack as she tried to fight back her tears.
"I said 'go home'." He paused to take another deep breath. "I didn't say anything about not coming back. You need to make sure that you're more careful in the future. I have delicate business dealings that don't concern you or your work. Try to remember that. Now, you're free to go for the rest of the day. However, I expect you back here tomorrow. I have lots of work for you to do."
"I-I'm not fired?" Her eyes grew wide with shock and she quickly looked from Mr. Preston to Helga and then back again.
"Oh, Mr. Preston, you can't be serious!" Helga's face nearly fell in astonishment. "We caught her spying red-handed! You have to fire her!"
"I am not accustomed to you or anyone else telling me what I have to do!" He glared at Helga and she quickly backed down.
"I-I'll be here tomorrow, Mr. Preston," Sara said as she quickly gathered up her purse and jacket. "Right on time! Just like I always am. T-thank you, Mr. Preston!"
As Sara rushed out of the house, Helga eyed Thornton closely and quickly noticed the state he was in. "Have you been taking your medication?" she asked with a determine glare. "You know you're supposed to be taking it! What would your doctor say?"
"No, I haven't been taking it," he confessed as he slumped back into his chair and began to rub his eyes.
"Are you a fool? You know what the doctors said! I leave you to your own devices and you see what happens! You stop taking your medication and you let that...that girl snoop into your private affairs and you do nothing!"
"I told you that was none of your concern!" He slammed his fist down onto the desk. As he felt his heart begin to race he reached for the bottle of pills he kept in his top desk drawer. "Helga, I need you to make a phone call for me."
"Yes, sir," she replied as she rushed to pour him glass of water so he could chase his medication.
"I need you to call Douglas Davis." He paused to take a labored breath. "Tell him I need to see him at once!"
TO BE CONTINUED
Stephanie gets a clue.
For Now and Forever
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