THE GARDENS RESTAURANT
will you excuse me?" Stephanie Lake asked as she slowly rose from her
chair. "I need to go to the ladies' room."
"Oh, of course." he
replied as he, too, rose from his chair slightly until she had left. He
barely had a chance to return to his seat when he looked up and saw Reginald
approaching. "Reginald! Good to see you. Looks like you
and Jillian had the same idea for dinner that Steph and I did."
isn't a better place in Albanyville," Reginald smiled as he stood at the
table. "But, actually, that's kind of what I want to talk to you
about. May I sit down?"
course." Patterson eyed him curiously as he took his seat.
"So, what do you want to talk to me about?"
"I want to talk to you
about whatever it is that's going on between you and Stephanie."
Reginald quickly noticed the look of discomfort that spread across Patterson's
"I-I don't know what
you're talking about. Stephanie and I are just friends."
Patterson calmly looked away as he tried to avoid the topic of conversation.
"I don't think Steph knows
how to be 'just friends' with a guy." Reginald leaned in
closer. "Are you sure that's all that's going on?"
"What are you trying to
say, Reginald? Are you trying to imply that you think we're having an
"What I'm say is that you
need to be careful." Reginald paused as he carefully thought about
his best course of action. "You know how she is. You've seen
what kind of malicious things she can do."
"I've told both you and
Jillian over and over again that she's a different person now!"
Patterson felt himself start to grow both anxious and annoyed. How many
times did he have to come to Stephanie's defense? Why couldn't people
believe that she could change?
"Well, different or not,
you need to be careful. Spending so much time with Stephanie is bound to
cause problems for your relationship with Lorraine. You know full well how
insecure she can be. Lorraine can have an overactive imagination at times
and she's going to think that something's going on between you two.
Getting too close to Steph is bound to cause problems eventually."
Patterson took a deep breath
and turned to avoid his friend's intense gaze. "You don't have to
worry about what Lorraine thinks," he muttered. "She and I
aren't together anymore."
Reginald's jaw dropped in shock. "When did this happen?
I-I thought things were going so well with you two. It's not because of
Stephanie, is it?"
happened between me and Lorraine had nothing to do with
Stephanie!" Patterson clinched his teeth slightly. Why did
everyone insist on believing that anything bad had to be Stephanie's
fault? "In fact, I don't really know what went wrong. I
thought things were going well, too. I guess...I guess she saw things
"Paddy, I'm sorry.
I had no idea." Reginald reached over and gave Patterson's shoulder a
slight squeeze in sympathy. "I admit, I wasn't sure about the two of
you getting back together; especially after how it all turned out the first
time. But, I was actually starting to believe that it could work out this
Patterson's eyes began to cloud over with thoughts of Lorraine and her sudden
decision to end their relationship. However, he quickly pushed those
thoughts aside. He'd worried about it for too long. He knew there
was no changing her mind.
"Then, that explains a
"W-what do you
obvious!" Reginald paused as Patterson shot him a look of
confusion. "Paddy, you're so traumatized by what's happened with
Lorraine that you're getting caught up with Steph on the rebound."
"That's not what's
"Listen to me, Patterson,
I know all too well how Stephanie Lake can be. You know that!
She's got quite a few charms and tricks up her sleeve and she knows full well
how to use them!" Reginald paused to take a deep breath.
This conversation was turning into a confrontation and that wasn't what he'd
intended. "I know exactly how easy it is to loose your head
with someone like her. I did it. I got swept up in the whole aura
that is Stephanie. I nearly drowned in it until my love for Jillian
pulled me out. Don't let the same thing happen to you."
"But that's not
what's going on!" Patterson slammed his fist down onto the table in
frustration. Why couldn't Reginald listen? Why was he so adamant in
holding on to his negative beliefs about Stephanie? "She's
changed! Granted, she's still far from a saint and she's far from
perfect, but she's really changed! She's been through a lot these last few
months! A lot of that is because of you."
"A lot of that is her own
"Reginald, I'm not
discussing Stephanie with you anymore!" Patterson folded his arms
across and turned away.
"Just remember, I once
sat in the exact position you're in now with Stephanie. I've
already been there." Reginald hesitated for a moment as he searched
for the right words. "I know how she is from my own
experiences. Don't get caught up in things you don't understand.
Learn from my mistakes." With those words, he quietly got up and
walked back to his own table leaving Patterson to his own thoughts.
"What did Reginald
want?" Stephanie asked as she rejoined him.
Patterson couldn't tell her how Reginald had railed against her. He
couldn't upset her like that after everything she was already going through with
Clark Saxon. "He...well, he wanted to offer his support about the
entire Lorraine mess."
"Oh, I see."
She kept her eyes firmly focused on him and realized he wasn't telling her
everything. She clearly knew how Reginald felt about her considering her
own past actions and was sure he was reinforcing those feelings to Patterson.
Meanwhile, Reginald's words
were churning in Patterson's head. Was he really getting caught up
with Stephanie due to his breakup with Lorraine? Was he vulnerable to
Stephanie's charms and looking for things that weren't really there? Was that
why he was having such a swirl of emotions?