THE MONROE HOME -
my god, Stephanie!"
Patterson Monroe exclaimed at the sight of a tearful
and emotional Stephanie standing in his doorway. "What's wrong?"
"O-oh, Paddy!" she
sobbed as she ran into the house. "Oh, I'm such a stupid fool!"
"What is it? What's
wrong?" He quickly followed her and sat down next to her on the
couch. She looked so pitiful as she buried her face in her hands and cried
her eyes out. "C'mon, Steph, tell me. Don't you know you can
talk to me?"
"O-of course I
do." She swallowed back her tears and tried to dry her eyes.
The more she'd thought about the conversation between Clark and
Helen that she'd
overheard, the more upset she'd become. "T-that's why I'm here.
Y-you're the only one...the only one I can talk to. I can't tell
Momma about this. She'll just say 'I told you so'. I-I don't really
have any friends. Just you."
"Then talk to
me!" He reached over and put his arm around her and drew her closer
as he tried to give her some comfort. "Tell me what happened.
What's got you all upset like this? It's not Clark, is it?"
Stephanie shivered slightly
and turned to look at him with her red rimmed eyes and swallowed hard.
Fearful of confessing her naivety and foolishness, she bit her lip and tried to
think of how she could tell him how wrong she'd been about Clark Saxon.
"O-oh, Patterson, yes,
it's Clark!" She started to sob again and laid her head on his
shoulder. He quickly grabbed a handkerchief out of his pocket and
carefully tried to catch her tears.
"I knew it," he
muttered under his breath and scowled. He'd known something wasn't quite
right about Clark, but wasn't sure what. Now Stephanie was crying her eyes
out over him. He hadn't seen her this upset and devastated since
the night of Reginald and
Jillian's party. "Tell me what
happened. What did Clark do?"
"He was just using
me!" she blurted out. "He was scheming with Helen Van
Dyne! They wanted to make me the laughing stock of AU and all of
Patterson gasped slightly at the seediness of it all. "Why? Why
would they want to hurt you like that?"
"Oh, Helen's just trying
to exact some revenge on me for what I did to Reginald and Jillian!
Haven't I paid for that enough? After Dane blamed that entire mess on me,
I pretty much lost every bit of respect anyone could possibly have had for
me." Her voice quivered slightly as she paused and looked up at
him. Despite the great devastation she felt, she couldn't help but smile
at him. "Everyone, but you, Paddy. You're the only one who was
willing to give me a chance. You're the only one that really
cares," he reminded her as he sat and stroked her soft hair in an effort to
calm her down.
"Yes, I know," she
muttered as she snuggled closer to him and found great comfort and security
wrapped in his arms. "She tried to tell me that she didn't
trust Clark. She said that something in her gut told her he was up to no
good! I refused to listen to her. I should have."
"Well, I can't say that
I'm one of your mother's biggest fans, but the one redeeming quality she has is
her love for you. She might have an odd way of showing it, sometimes, but I
know you're the most important thing in the world to her." He cracked
an awkward grin. "I hope Clark books a flight out of town before she
manages to get hold of him."
"Oh, no! Momma
can't ever know what happened!" Stephanie pulled away from him
as her eyes filled with fear.
"No? Why not?
Surely you'll want to confide in her. She's your mother, after
"No! I can't tell
her how stupid I was to believe Clark and fall for his charms. I can't
tell her she was right!" She quickly rose from the couch and began to
pace the room. "Why, she'll think she always knows what's best for
me. She'll refuse to ever let me live my own life or make my own
choices! Granted, some of the choices I've made haven't exactly been the
best ones, but they're mine! Momma thinks that the only boy I should give
my heart to is a boy with money and prestige and a prominent social
"And you don't find those
things quite as important now?" He looked at her curiously.
Stephanie had changed a lot!
"Well..." she paused
as she considered the question. "I'd be lying if I said that finding
those things in a man wouldn't be nice. Of course, I'd love to find a man
who could provide me wealth and social prominence, but..."
"But what, Steph?"
"Well...I-if I really had
to chose between love and money, I'd have to choose love." Her eyes
appeared to light up as she seemed to be having her own epiphany.
"Yes! Love! True, honest love is the most important
thing! Without that, all the money and respectability wouldn't be worth
"Stephanie, I'm so proud
of you!" Patterson quickly went to her and hugged her tightly.
"That's what I've been trying to get you to see all along."
"But, love is what I thought
I had with Reginald." She looked away as her eyes clouded over
again. "It's what I thought I could have with Clark.
Sure, they both have the money and the social standing, but that isn't what drew
me to them. Was it?"
"Only you can answer
that." He stepped back to look at her, still so emotionally broken
and frail. "So, what exactly were Helen and Clark trying to cook
"Oh, I don't know,"
she muttered as she tried to avoid thinking about it. "Something
about proving how easy I was and announcing to everyone how I'd thrown myself at
Clark. They wanted to make everyone think I was any man's for the
taking. You know that's not how it is!"
"Steph, you tend to talk
a big game when it comes to men. You've got that coy and flirtatious thing
down to a science."
"Yeah, I do," she
blushed slightly. "It doesn't always work to my advantage,
though. It didn't work on Reginald...well, the second time, it
didn't. I thought it worked on Clark, but he was just using it
"I-I guess we've both
been lied to and used." Patterson's thoughts momentarily turned to
Lorraine and her betrayal by leaving him to marry Douglas. "I thought
that Lorraine really loved me, too. I-I thought we had a future
Stephanie gasped. "I-I'm so sorry! I shouldn't have run to you
with this. You've got enough of your own problems to deal with.
okay." He smiled at her and suddenly remembered the impetuous kiss
that he'd given her. "In fact, you've managed to take my mind off of
that. I think you're the only thing that has. Besides, I
promised you I'd stick by you through thick and thin. I'm not going to
just up and abandon you."
"You really are
special. You know that?"
They stood there for a moment,
just looking at each other. For some reason, a wall of awkwardness was now
between them. It felt as if there were still so many things left unsaid,
but neither of them could find the words. What was this strange new
feeling that seemed to come over them?
"Come here," he
finally spoke as he opened his arms to her. She went to him willingly and
he hugged her tightly. It was a hug that had been intended to display
comfort and support, but neither one of them seemed willing to let go of the
other. They just stood there, wrapped in each other's arms, enjoying the
warmth and security of it all.
He pulled away from her
slightly and looked down into her eyes. What was this feeling that was
coming over him? Over her? Suddenly, their lips met in a kiss and
they both held on to each other more tightly savoring every tender moment of
their newfound passion. What did it all mean? Neither one was sure,
but neither one wanted it to stop.