For Now and Forever
EPISODE #50 (Friday
THE SUNSET HOTEL - JUDITH'S PENTHOUSE - LIVING ROOM
"I'm really glad that the baby is doing okay," Janet Stokes said as she sat on the sofa across from her sister Judith and sipped her coffee. "I-I really am sorry I let myself get so upset." She quickly glanced down at her hands as she avoided Judith's stern gaze.
"Well, I guess that kind of behavior is to be expected out of you." Judith kept her eyes firmly focused on her sister as she let a slight smirk cross her lips. "Considering everything that's happened, and all."
Janet's head shot up and she shot Judith an angry look. "I certainly hope you haven't asked me up here to dredge up a bunch of painful memories!" She clinched her teeth and took a deep breath. She really shouldn't let Judith get to her so much. After a moment, she managed to push her sister's comment out of her mind; however, she began to look at her curiously. "Why did you ask me up here?"
"I was just wondering about this new boyfriend of yours." Judith maintained her cool exterior and took a sip of coffee. "Tell me about him."
"T-there's not much to tell."
"Well..." Judith leaned back and kept her eyes firmly on her sister. "Why don't you tell me exactly how much he really knows about you."
THE GARDENS RESTAURANT
"I'm so glad that we finally have a night to spend together," Reginald Callison said as he smiled at his fiancée Jillian Stokes. "You're been spending so much time with Judith and Janet lately that I haven't gotten to see much of you."
"Well, considering my concern for Judith and her baby and the trouble that could result from Janet not going home, I'm sure you can understand." Jillian paused to take a sip of her wine. It was so nice to finally spend an evening with Reginald, just the two of them...no Janet and no Judith. "Actually, I was hoping that this would give us a chance to work out some of the details of our wedding. We really haven't managed to get a lot of planning done."
"Ahh!" he smiled at her. "I see your ulterior motives now! This is a working date!"
"Oh, would you be serious?" She let out a small laugh which brought a glow to her face. "These are things that we need to take care of. Besides, it kills two birds with one stone. We get to work on our wedding and we get to finally spend some time together."
"Actually, I was thinking about the same thing." He paused to savor her look of pleasant surprise. "In fact...what would you say to a Valentine's Day wedding?"
"You want to set a date?"
"I most certainly do! I want you to finally and officially become Jillian Callison on February 14, 1936. To me, that date is perfect. It is the most romantic day of the year and it's just far enough away to give you and my mother a chance to plan the biggest wedding this town has ever seen." He hesitated for a moment and his look grew slightly more serious. "I just hope Dane Manchester doesn't do anything to ruin it."
"Why do you have to keep bringing him?" she glared at him. "Haven't I convinced you that he's a part of the past? He has no influence now on me or us!"
"Why do you get so edgy whenever his name is brought up?" He looked at her closely and quickly grew disturbed. She had seemed slightly on edge lately, no matter what topic of conversation was brought up. "It's the exact same reaction you have when I try to discuss Janet and this mysterious secret of hers."
"That's because my family and their...their personal matters should be of no concern to you!" She felt her body tense up at the mention of both Dane and Janet. Why did he always have to ruin their few moments of serene happiness together by bringing up things that she didn't want to think about, much less talk about. "Why can't you leave well enough alone? None of it is important! Why do you have to torment me like this?"
"If it's not important, why does it torment you?" He watched her closely. He hated to upset her like this, but he knew that she was certainly hiding things from him. If she could just confide in him, maybe he could help.
"Because..." She lowered her head slightly and took a deep breath. "Because I'm just so embarrassed that I was foolish enough to get caught up in Dane's charms. I like to pride myself on being a bright and intelligent young woman, but I still couldn't see him for the cad he is." She'd completely ignored his question concerning Janet. Secretly, she hoped that he would forget his questions regarding her sister. "Why do you have to act like you're so jealous of my past with Dane? That has nothing to do with you."
"But I am jealous!" Reginald spoke up as he held a solid grip on her hand. "It just...it just unnerves me to think of you ever having been in love with someone else. It makes me feel anxious to know that you once felt as strongly about him as you do about me. What if someone else were to come along and you were able to feel that strongly about them?"
"Oh, Reginald," Jillian sighed and looked at him lovingly. "Don't you realize that you have nothing to be jealous of or worried about? I clearly see that what I had, or thought I had, with Dane was nothing at all like true love. That was all some immature, childish infatuation. You are the one that finally made me realize that. There is no one else in my heart but you and there never will be. Reginald, I will love you until the day I die. Remember what the watch said that I gave you at our engagement party? For now and forever. That's exactly how long I'll love you."
His heart began to overflow with the love it held for Jillian. She was the most breathtaking and fascinating woman he'd ever met. He knew that there would never be anyone else like her and he doubted her could love her more than he did at that moment.
Suddenly, the sight of two familiar faces entering the restaurant caught Reginald's attention. Jillian followed his gaze and quickly began to grow uncomfortable. It was Patterson and Stephanie. Jillian still hadn't fully gotten over the manipulations that Stephanie had been involved in to separate her and Reginald. Of course, Patterson was constantly insisting that she'd changed, but Jillian still wasn't sure. Even if Stephanie Lake had miraculously turned into a saint, she still wasn't sure she could ever forget or forgive the pain that she'd caused.
"Now, that's something I still have a hard time understanding," Reginald muttered as he kept his eyes firmly focused on the other couple. "I remember when Paddy didn't have the first nice thing to say about her. Now, he's cozied up with her like they were lifelong friends!"
"Dear, you know how he is," she replied as she, too, watched Patterson and Stephanie closely. "He seems to think it's up to him to guide everyone in the right direction. He is still friends with Dane. Somehow, he can always manage to see the good in everyone...even when I'm not sure there's any really there."
"True, but I keep getting this feeling that there's something else going on." He furrowed his brow slightly and turned to face Jillian again. "What, I'm not exactly sure, but there's something going on between them."
THE SUNSET HOTEL - JUDITH'S PENTHOUSE - LIVING ROOM
"I haven't told B..." Janet snapped and then caught herself. She took a deep breath to calm her nerves which were increasingly on edge. "I haven't told him anything about what happened, if that's what you're referring to. He has no reason to know!" She fidgeted uncomfortably in her seat and tried to find something to focus her eyes on besides Judith's stern gaze.
"But, darling, what if he does find out?" Judith smirked slightly as she swirled her spoon in her coffee cup. "What are you going to do then?"
"I am not discussing this with you!" Janet jumped up from her seat and rushed across the room. "My relationship with him is none of your business!"
"Oh, quit being so foolish! I'm only posing these questions because I care. You are my sister, after all." Judith kept her position on the sofa and followed Janet's movements with her eyes.
"My relationship with B...with Bradley is none of your business!"
Judith eyed her curiously. Oh, Janet, you should really work to keep your lies straight. "Bradley?" she grinned slyly. "That's odd. I could have sworn you told us his name was Barrett Lowder. Which one is it, Janet? Barrett or Bradley?"
Janet's eyes grew wide with fear. She was having trouble keeping her stories straight. Now, Judith, of all people, had caught her in a lie! Janet began to wring her hands and prayed that she could keep her composure. She couldn't let it all get to her. She couldn't give herself away.
"Mrs. Linford, will Miss Stokes be staying for dinner?" Judith's maid Ruby spoke up as she stepped into the room.
"Do you mind?" Judith snapped. "My sister and I are trying to have a private conversation!"
"I-I only wanted to know if I needed to set another place at the table." Ruby hung her head and sunk back towards the kitchen.
"No, Ruby, thank you anyway." Janet tried to put on a warm smile to keep the tension between the sisters from being clearly evident to the maid.
"Don't you have some silver to polish or something?" Judith glared.
"I...um," Ruby stammered. "I'll leave you two alone."
Judith promptly turned her attention back to the matter at hand. "Now, where was I?" she asked as Ruby quickly hurried back into the kitchen. "Oh, yes, I remember! Have you told Barrett...Bradley...whatever his name is this week...what happened in New York? Does he know all of our family's dirty laundry?"
"O-of course not!" Janet gasped. Of course she couldn't tell him. She couldn't tell anyone! "That's something he'll never know! I can't...I can't tell him about what happened. He'd never understand! I...I don't even really understand."
"Well, dear, that's the smartest thing I've ever heard you say." Judith sat her coffee cup down, rose from her seat, and slowly approached her. "It would be extremely foolish to let him know what happened...what you've done. If he knew the truth he'd surely leave you."
"I-I know." Janet began to feel tears well up in her eyes and she bowed her head in an effort to keep Judith from seeing her emotions.
"Why, he'd never want you if he knew the truth about you." Judith stood directly in front of her and spoke with pointed determination. "Actually, I don't think anyone would ever want you if they knew the truth."
"N-No!" Janet sobbed. "Don't say that!"
"But it's the truth dear." Judith kept her eyes firmly focused on her. "Who in their right mind would want fragile, damaged goods?"
Overcome with the anxiety and emotions that Judith's truths elicited, a tearful Janet ran out of the apartment leaving Judith to stand and smile over her small victory.
"Oh, sister dear, you're playing in the wrong field with the wrong opponent," Judith said to herself with a smirk. "You are in way over your head and you have no idea how much." She briskly walked over to the closet and pulled out her jacket. "I think I need to go pay someone a visit and finally clear the air. I need to go see Burt Lamont."
THE GARDENS RESTAURANT
"Patterson, 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."
"There 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?"
"Sure, of 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 face.
"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 affair?"
"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."
"What?" 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?"
"No! Whatever 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 differently."
"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 time."
"Me, too." 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 lot."
"W-what do you mean?"
"Well, it's 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 going on!"
"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 fault!"
"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.
"Um...nothing." 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?
Fred Rutherford pulled the collar of his jacket up around his neck to avoid the crisp wind that blew in off of the river. As he nervously rocked back and forth on his heels, he glanced at his watch to check the time. He let out a labored sighed when he realized that who he was meeting was late. Very late. He cautiously looked in both directions hoping to spot some sign of him approaching, but already knew that he was all alone.
"Rutherford," the deep voice came from behind him.
"W-what?" Fred muttered in surprise. The voice's sudden arrival had startled him. He'd been sure he was alone. He never saw anyone approaching. Where did they come from? When did they get there?
"Don't turn around."
"O-okay." Fred kept his hands in his jacket pocket in an attempt to keep them from shaking.
"Ya got the money?"
"I told him on the phone that I don't have it yet!" Why couldn't they listen to reason? Why did they have to have everything right now?
"The boss told ya you needed to have the money you owe him!"
Fred's entire body tensed up as he felt something poke him in the back. He knew immediately that he was now on the receiving end of a gun barrel. "Look, I don't want any trouble. I-I've got part of it. I don't have it all, but I've got part of it."
"You were supposed t'have all of it!" The owner of the mysterious voice jabbed the gun further into Fred's back.
"He's got to give me more time!" Fred swallowed hard. "I-I've got a plan to get the rest of it. I just have some more things to do to get it. I haven't had time!"
"Ya better find the time. Ya know how the boss hates to be kept waitin'."
"Look, if you give me more time, I can get you what I owe you and more!" Of course, Fred was counting a lot of chickens that hadn't even been laid yet, let alone hatched.
"Yeah, more! Just give me some more time. A-another month. Give me another month! I can have what I owe you and more in another month!"
Silence. Fred could tell the anonymous owner of the gun that was still pressed into his back was mulling over his offer.
"Okay. Ya got another month. That's all! You ain't got what ya owe in another month, and you'll be having a nice little reunion with your lady friend. I'm sure ya's ain't forgotten what the boss does with guys like you."
Fred took a deep breath and gulped. He knew all too well what would happen...cement shoes. Suddenly the pressure in his back from the gun was gone. He stood there in silence for a few moments and waited for the mysterious voice behind him to speak again, but he heard nothing. Finally, he got up enough nerve to turn his head and see if he was alone again.
Catching him off guard, the first blow struck him in the jaw and he quickly crumpled to the grown. A fist? No, it couldn't have been a fist. It was too hard and solid. A pipe? Maybe.
Dazed, Fred lay on the ground clutching his jaw when another blow hit.
He felt his forehead split open and blood streamed into his eyes, preventing him from seeing his attackers. How many of them were there? Two? Three? Fred couldn't tell, but he knew there were a lot of them. He doubled over as a kick nailed him in the stomach and he fought to catch his breath. He knew better than to fight back. There were too many of them. Besides, if he struggled, they might very well go on and kill him.
The last thing he could clearly remember was the searing pain as something...a brick?...crashed down onto his head. As he lay on the ground battered and bruised, he thought he could faintly hear talking...laughing. As his attackers quickly ran away, Fred's world faded to black.
THE LAMONT HOME - KITCHEN
"I'm coming!" Burt Lamont called out as he raced down the stairs to answer the knocking at the back door. As he swung the door open, his jaw dropped in utter shock.
"Hello, Burt," Judith smiled as she stood on the back stoop. "Aren't you going to invite me in?"
"J-Judith? W-what are you doing here? How did you know where I was?" He stumbled backward, not fully believing that she was there. "Oh, um, of course. Come in."
"Let's just say that I happened to be in the neighborhood and I thought I'd stop by." She breezed into the kitchen and stopped to survey the surroundings. She wrinkled her nose slightly in displeasure, but fought to hide her opinions from him. As she removed her long jacket, she immediately saw the look of surprise on Burt's face.
"Judith, look at you!" He exclaimed as the shock of her arrival began to wear off. "You're having a baby!"
"Trust me, I know," she muttered, rather annoyed with her condition, and rolled her eyes. "You can't imagine how hard it is to find anything that fits when you're suddenly shaped like a medicine ball."
"I'm sure Mark must be thrilled." Burt's tone was rather guarded. He was surprised, yet happy, to see her again. However, he knew that Judith Linford didn't do anything without a reason and he was sure this unexpected visit was no exception.
"Thrilled doesn't even begin to cover it."
"So, um, exactly how did you know where I was? I know you weren't just 'in the neighborhood'." He eyed her closely as he waited for an answer.
"Actually, my sister Jillian lives in Albanyville. I'm in town visiting her." She smiled as she chose her words carefully. Every beat of the conversation had to land just perfectly. "We were out the other day and I saw you. You can't believe how shocked I was to find you here, of all places. I guess it really is a small world."
"Apparently so." His eyes remained focused on her as a flood of memories came rushing back. He shook his head slightly to clear his head. That was in the past. That was long over and done with. Those times were much better left forgotten.
"It wasn't difficult to track you down once I realized you were in Albanyville," she continued. "You disappeared out of New York so suddenly, I never found out what happened to you. I couldn't let this moment pass me by."
"Well, our last meeting wasn't exactly a pleasant one." He smirked slightly at the understatement. As the memory of their last encounter filled his mind, his mood quickly clouded over. "If I remember correctly, the words "hate" and "loathe" were used quite frequently."
"Do we have to dwell on all of that?" Judith slowly walked towards him. "Can't we just let that rest in the past? We both said a lot of things that we didn't necessarily mean."
"Did we?" Burt's eyes narrowed as his tone grew cold and distant. "You meant every word! I-I don't think that seeing you again is such a good idea. I think you better leave."
"I am not going anywhere!" she said defiantly. "You can't stand there and tell me you're not happy to see me again."
"That's exactly what I'm telling you, Judith! When I left New York for Chicago, I swore that I would never see you again. Isn't that what you said you wanted? Wasn't that...how did you put it...for the best?"
"You know I didn't mean that!" She bit her lip as she remembered all the hateful words that were flung that night. "I-I was hurt and frightened. My entire life was turned upside down. You know I didn't have another choice!"
"You made the choice you wanted to make. Live with it." Burt walked briskly to the door and flung it open. "Now, get out! I don't ever want to see you again. Don't ever try to contact me again! I don't have time for you little displays of remorse."
Judith didn't move. She stood very still and took a deep breath. "Burt, there is a reason why I came to see you. I had to see you. I had to tell you the truth."
"I don't want to hear your version of the truth! You wouldn't know the truth if it slapped you in the face!"
"Oh, Burt, that hurts. That really hurts." Judith quickly looked away and sighed. This was truly more difficult on her than she thought it would be. However, she knew she had to do it. She had to tell him the truth. After everything that had happened, she owed him that much.
Seeing the sadness and true remorse that she had, Burt's attitude began to soften. He approached her tentatively and reached out for her. "Alright," he sighed, "tell me what you came here to say. Just tell me and get it over with."
A slight spark ignited in Judith's eyes as she turned to face him again. "Well, Burt, you see, it has to do with this child I'm carrying. It's not Mark's."
Burt eyed her curiously. The baby wasn't Mark's? Then who's?
"It's yours, Burt. The baby I'm carrying is yours."
TO BE CONTINUED
Reginald is shocked to learn of Francis' involvement with Fred.
For Now and Forever
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