what's wrong?" Patterson asked as he sat down next to her at the
table. "You sounded upset on the phone."
"I...I told Momma about
Clark," Stephanie confessed as she lowered her head, still shaken by the
conversation with her mother. "I told her every horrible thing that
he and Helen have done."
"That's good. You
needed to talk to her about that." He reached over and grabbed her
hand in a display of comfort. "W-what did she say?"
she was unbelievably angry! She said that she wouldn't let Clark get away
with trying to use and humiliate me." She quickly looked away, still
embarrassed over her foolishness for even falling for Clark's charms to begin
"I shudder to think what
she's going to do when she finally gets her hands on him." Patterson
let out a slight laugh as he tried to ease Stephanie's nerves. "I
wouldn't want to be in his shoes."
"She can be like a hurricane,"
she admitted before taking a deep breath. "There's...there's also
something else that's been bothering me, lately."
serious, I hope."
She looked at him as she
thought about what she knew about Dane and her mother. Could she trust him
to keep the information she had to himself? Patterson had always been
there for her before; would he be able to give her the sound advice that she
"I...um...I found out
something about my mother and something about Dane," she finally
confessed. "I found out something that could very much cause a lot of
serious." He looked at her closely to determine whether what she had
to say truly had as much importance as she claimed. Stephanie did have a
tendency to over exaggerate to a certain extent.
"Trust me, this is very
serious!" She hesitated for a moment as she searched for the right
words. "I...I know that Dane cheated on his entrance exam for
Albanyville University. That's how he got in!"
cheated?" Patterson leaned back into his chair as he considered the
ramifications of her revelation. "Actually, that doesn't surprise
me. I know he's one of my best friends, but he's never been the most
studious or ethical of guys."
"Paddy, if the dean ever
found out that Dane cheated, he'd be expelled from school! This is a big
deal!" She bit her lip as she thought about exactly how serious her
news really was.
"And it would be just the
perfect revenge for everything he did to you at Reginald and
engagement party?" He eyed her cautiously as he quickly realized that
maybe Stephanie hadn't done as complete a turnaround in her outlook as he'd
thought. "You set out to find dirt on Dane to get back at him, didn't
She blushed slightly at having been caught in her scheme. "Yes,
Patterson, I did set out to find a way to get back at Dane. But what do I
do with this? How can I use this against him? Should I go to the
"Don't do anything!
What would that accomplish? Making him angry enough that he'd want to get
back at you for ruining his life? It would just start a nasty cycle of
revenge, each of you taking turns!"
"I...I guess you're
right," she admitted with a sigh. Dane would want to get back at
whomever spilled the truth to the dean. However, she just couldn't resist
the urge to ruin Dane for everything that he'd done to her.
"But, what's this about
your mother?" Patterson looked at her curiously. "What
could you possibly have learned about her?"
"Well, it's about her and
Charles Callison." Stephanie hesitated as she considered whether she
should reveal her mother's actions. Of course, it was only Patterson she
was telling. She knew she could trust him with anything.
"I'm not sure I'm
comfortable discussing that with you," he confessed. "I care
about you a great deal, Stephanie, but I despise your mother for what she's
managed to do to the Callison family. I just can't believe that Charles
was foolish enough to get involved with her to begin with."
"T-that's just it, Paddy,
"I...I don't think I
understand what you're getting at."
"He didn't get involved
with my mother of his own free will!" She bit her lip as she thought of
everything that she'd learned. "That night at the party, when Francis
found out he was involved with her...Momma had drugged him!"
"Momma drugged Charles
Callison! Paddy, she drugged him and then seduced him. He didn't do
it because he wanted to, he did it because he didn't have a lot of choice!
Momma drugged him, seduced him, and then fixed it so his wife would find them
"Oh, my god,
Stephanie! You've got to tell someone about this! This could save
the entire Callison family!" He grabbed her arm urgently as if to
make her understand.
"But, Paddy, she's my mother! I...I
can't betray my own mother!"
"Stephanie, you have to
do the right thing!"
She furrowed her brow as she
thought about what he was saying. Why was it more important to tell the
truth about her mother than to tell the truth about Dane? She knew the
truth about both of them and was even more torn about what to do. How in
the world would she decide?