For Now and Forever
EPISODE #66 (Monday
THE LAMONT HOME - PENELOPE'S BEDROOM
"B-Burton, I'm...going to die," Penelope Lamont muttered weakly as she lay in bed and gasped for air.
"No! Don't say that!" In spite of himself, Burt Lamont couldn't control the tears that were building up in his eyes and they quickly started to overflow.
"Before I die, there's something...something I have to tell you." Penelope paused and took a long, deep, raspy breath. She looked even more weak and frail than before and Burt knew that she didn't have much time.
"O-okay, Ma," he muttered softly, trying to fight his overwhelming emotions. "Okay. Tell me. What is it that I need to know?"
"B-Burton...I have lied to you your entire life." She rolled her head away as if to hide her embarrassment despite the circumstances. "I...I just can't go to...my grave with...with that on my...conscience."
"Lied? About what?" What in the world could she be talking about? Had she progressed so far that she was no longer in her right mind? Was she that close to.... "Ma, just don't think about that now!"
"I...I have...to." Using all of the strength she could muster, Penelope rolled her head back over and looked her son in the eyes. "I'm going to die and...I have to tell you...the truth."
SPRINGHILL MANOR - FOYER
"And what are you doing here?" Helga Grimm questioned sternly as Mrs. Preston breezed through the front door and into the foyer. "You can't just show up any time you want. You don't own this house!"
"That is a travesty," Mrs. Preston grumbled as she stood and glared at Helga. "I can't believe that little twit Sara managed to con Thornton into leaving her everything!"
"No, you just can't believe that he was smart enough to see you for the lying, manipulative shrew you are!" Helga eyed her closely. "Why are you here? What do you want?"
"Helga, dear, it's simple. I have some personal records that are among my darling Thornton's personal effects." She paused and cautiously looked around the foyer, making note of all the details. She smiled and thought about how lavish everything was. The manor would be a rather nice place to live. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get them. Show me to his office."
"Actually, I think it would be best if you just tell me what you need and I'll go fetch it for you." Helga was never one to be fooled by her late employer's wife. Mrs. Preston always seemed to be up to something and this instance didn't seem any different. "I can't let you go digging through Mr. Preston's things."
"He was my husband!" Mrs. Preston felt her face flush with anger. She and Helga had never gotten along. Helga had gone out of her way to convince Thornton not to marry her. She'd even faked a fainting spell at the wedding in hopes of halting the ceremony. "Now, show me to his office!"
"He, might have been your husband, but he sure didn't leave you a cent in his will. That speaks volumes about how he really felt about you!"
"You know what, Helga?" Mrs. Preston said as she began to seethe. "If you're not going to help me, then I'll just have to find his office, myself!" She pushed passed Helga and quickly began to search the house. "This place isn't so big that I can't find one little office all on my own."
"I can't allow you to do that!" Helga began to grow more and more annoyed as she trailed along behind Mrs. Preston as she explored the house.
"I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I don't need your permission." Mrs. Preston quickly climbed the stairs and began to investigate the second floor.
After a quick search of rooms, she flung the door to Thornton's office open. With a self-satisfied grin, she realized that it wouldn't be long before she found out the truth. Why had Thornton left his estate to Dane and Sara Manchester? She had her suspicions. Surely, Sara had been sleeping with the old codger in an effort to bilk him out of his money and Dane had been her accomplice. Once the merry widow could prove that, she would finally get everything that should rightfully be hers.
THE LAMONT HOME - PENELOPE'S BEDROOM
"Ma, just don't say anything," Burt said as he carefully stroked her forehead and attempted not to let his fear show. "Just save your strength and let me go call the doctor."
"No!" Penelope began to grow agitated and struggled to speak. "Burton, l-listen to me. I have to tell you the...t-truth."
He sat there in silence, looking at her. Was she about to tell him the dark secret that she'd been hiding from him? Was she about to tell him her real reasons for hating the Callison family so much? Did it have anything to do with that photograph of a man he didn't recognize?
"But, I need to call the hospital!"
"Oh, B-Burton, there's...there's no time...for t-that." She struggled to swallow back a tear as she thought about her life. In spite of all the trauma and tragedy, it had been a happy one. Besides, out of tragedy had come Burton...her pride and joy. "I have to t-tell you...the truth."
He nodded silently. It was something she needed to do. Besides, maybe her confession would finally shed some light on answers to all of the questions that he'd had. And, if she were finally able to say all that she needed to, there might still be time to convince her to allow him to phone the hospital.
"Tell, me, Ma," Burt said softly, trying to fight his fears. "Tell me what you have to say."
He reached over to her and gave her frail hand a reassuring squeeze as if urging her to go on.
"B-Burton, what I'm...what I'm about to...t-tell you...happened a long...long time...ago." Penelope tried to take a deep breath, but could only let out an unnerving wheeze.
"It's about...about your f-father."
"Pa?" Burt furrowed his brow and looked at her curiosity. "W-what does all of this have to do with Pa?"
"N-no, Burton. Not your...not your Pa." She rolled her head away in an attempt to cover the tears that were filling her eyes.
Did she truly have the strength to reveal her deepest, darkest secrets? Did she have the strength to change her son's entire world? She quickly realized that she didn't, but she also knew that she had no choice and even less time.
"N-no, not about y-your...Pa." Penelope took a deep, labored breath. The time had come to finally tell the truth. "This isn't about...him. I-I'm talking a-about...about your...r-real father..."
THE MONROE HOME - LIVING ROOM
"So, Clark got himself kicked out of school and just left town?" Patterson Monroe looked at Stephanie Lake curiously as he tried to make sense out of her sudden revelation. "But...but that just doesn't make any sense! Why would he just leave school?"
"He didn't just leave school, Paddy!" Stephanie exclaimed, barely unable to contain her joy. "He got kicked out of school! Oh, he must be utterly humiliated! I'm sure he left town in disgrace!"
"Don't sound so happy about it, Steph," he smiled warmly as he put his arm around her and pulled her close. "Look, I know that this entire mess with Clark Saxon has put you through a great deal. Just don't question it. I'm sure somebody, somewhere finally wised up to him. I bet he had his fingers in a lot more pies than you know about."
"But how did the dean find out?" She rubbed her chin as she thought. Of course, she was happy to be rid of him, but she was rather curious as to what had really happened.
"Steph, just forget about it! It's over. Put Clark in you past and move on."
She eyed him closely. Move on? To what? After her recent discovery of her mother's twisted plans for Charles Callison, Stephanie was quite uncomfortable around her. It's not like Stephanie really had any friends. Sara still wasn't speaking to her. She really didn't have that much to move on to! Well, except for Patterson. He'd been her only support during the most trying period of her life. He meant so much to her; but she realized that he was still desperately hung up on Lorraine and Lorraine's betrayal. Patterson really was the one who couldn't put the past in the past.
"What are you thinking about?" he asked and looked deeply into her eyes. "What are you cooking up in that head of yours, now?"
"Oh, um, nothing, Paddy." She blushed slightly and quickly turned away. Why was she starting to feel so flustered around him? She hadn't felt this oddly giddy since...well, since she first started seeing Reginald.
"Well, it's got to be something!" He laughed again before his face took on a more serious expression. "You're not still thinking about everything you know about Dane and your mother, are you?"
"Y-yes! That's it!" It really wasn't a lie. A lot of her thoughts had been filled with questions about what she should do with what she'd learned about her mother's drugging of Charles Callison and about how Dane had cheated on his college entrance exam.
"I hope you're not thinking of still trying to get even with Dane." Patterson shot her a disapproving glance in regard to that thought. "Remember what I said...that will only start a horrible cycle with him of revenge."
"I...I know," she confessed and hung her head. She had all but decided not to spill her guts about Dane's cheating. It probably wouldn't be in her best interest. Well, right now, at least.
As for getting even with Helen Van Dyne for her roll in Clark's schemes for her, that was another story. Stephanie knew she had to do something to Helen to make her realize that she shouldn't try to ruin her life again. She just wasn't sure what.
"But...what about your mother?" Patterson lifted her chin so that he could look her in the eyes. "What are you going to do about what you know about her?"
"I...I don't know," Stephanie confessed as she pulled away from him. "I know I should probably say something, but how can I?"
"You just go to Charles Callison and tell him! That's how."
"I...I can't!" She began to feel a knot forming in her stomach. Her mother had always been there for her, no matter what. True, she could be rather opinionated about certain things and could be a little overbearing; but she only did the things that she did because she truly loved Stephanie. How could Stephanie repay that love with such a blatant act of betrayal?
"Steph, you have to tell the truth!"
She turned to look at him again as she silently weighed her options. How was telling the truth about her own mother better than telling the truth about Dane? If the truth was so important, why not just tell it all? Why did she have to be selective in her truths? Stephanie just didn't know what she was going to do.
SPRINGHILL MANOR - THORNTON'S PRIVATE STUDY
"It's just got to be here!" Mrs. Preston grumbled to herself and she sifted through her late husband's personal papers. She'd spent hours pouring over every file of legal notices and financial records that she could get her hands on. Thank god that Helga decided not the be bothered with her so she could continue her search in private.
Suddenly, her eyes caught a glimpse of a manila folder at the very bottom of a stack of papers on Thornton's desk. Clearly visible on the label was "Sara Manchester", scribbled in Thornton's handwriting. With a self-satisfied nod and a smirk, she quickly realized that this must be exactly what she was looking for. With any luck, Mrs. Preston would find out the real reason that Mr. and Mrs. Manchester had been left the bulk of her late husband's estate.
"Mrs. Preston, is there something I can help you with?" came the voice of Sara Manchester as she stood in the doorway of the study, eyeing her closely.
"I...um...I was just looking for some personal records of mine that my husband keeps...kept...in his files," Mrs. Preston lied as she swiftly slipped the folder out of sight. "I need them."
"Well, maybe if you tell me exactly what you're looking for, I can help. I did go back and completely re-do Mr. Preston's filing system; so I think I should know where everything is." Sara wasn't totally convinced. Her relationship with Dane and her experiences with Annabelle and Stephanie had taught her to recognize when someone was lying. She was sure Mrs. Preston wouldn't recognize the truth if it bit her.
"Oh, no, there's no need for that!" Mrs. Preston fought to hide her nervousness and quickly rose from her seat, tucking the folder under her arm in the process. "Actually, I've found exactly what I'm looking for." She hesitated for a moment and eyed Sara cautiously. "I really do need to be getting back to the hotel."
"Mrs. Preston, I'm really sorry how things worked out. I don't understand why Mr. Preston felt the need to be so cruel as to not even mention you in his will." And that was the truth. The entire situation baffled Sara to no end. Why in the world had he left almost everything to her and Dane? Why, Mr. Preston didn't even know Dane!
"Yes, I'm sure you're sorry," Mrs. Preston spat as the tension of the moment began to get to her. "My husband dies and leaves almost his entire estate to some poor little secretary and her oaf of a husband? I don't think so! You two did something to convince him to change his will! You set out to con him out of his money and I intend on proving it and getting everything that should be mine!"
As Mrs. Preston clinched her teeth, she pushed past a stunned Sara...manila folder still stuck under her arm...and out of the study. The sight of Helga walking her direction caused her to promptly stop in her tracks and let out a heavy sigh. Her run in with Sara had left her less than eager for another round with Thornton's hag of a maid.
"Sara, you have a telephone call," Helga said curtly before shooting Mrs. Preston a hateful glance.
"W-who is it?" Sara asked, still shaken by Mrs. Preston's accusations.
"It's your Aunt Annabelle. She wants to know if you and Mr. Manchester need any help moving in." Helga flashed Mrs. Preston a smug smile as she spoke. True, she wasn't especially fond of Sara, but she was even less fond of her employer's widow. She relished the thought of possibly playing them both off of each other. It could possibly be more entertaining than a double-bill down at the Alhambra Theatre!
Mrs. Preston fought to completely ignore Helga's pointed comments as she rushed for the stairs. As her foot hit the first step, Helga's words finally began to echo in her ears. Sara, you have a telephone call. It's your Aunt Annabelle. With a jolt, she spun around to look at Sara and began to eye her closely. Cautiously, she started to walk back towards the women, never once taking her eyes off of Sara.
"Mrs. Manchester...Sara Manchester," Mrs. Preston said as a million thoughts rushed through her head. No, it couldn't be.
"Yes?" Sara looked at her curiously and was quick to notice how all of the color had seemed to drain from Mrs. Preston's face.
"Your aunt is named Annabelle?"
"Um...yes," she replied, more than slightly confused about the reasons for Mrs. Preston's questions. "Annabelle Lake."
Mrs. Preston gasped slightly as her hand flew up to her chest in an attempt to silence her heart that seemed to want to beat its way out of her chest. Oh, my god. Oh, my god. Mrs. Preston knew exactly who Sara was.
THE LAMONT HOME - PENELOPE'S BEDROOM
"I...I don't understand," Burt said as he looked at his mother curiously. "What do you mean by my real father? Pa is my real father."
"N-no, Burton...no he's...not." Penelope struggled to inhale deeply and winced from the pain. "You were...you were already well...well on the...way before I-I ever m-met your...Pa."
Burt leaned back as he tried to catch his breath. This sudden revelation had thrown him for a loop and he wasn't quite sure what to say. The man who'd raised him...well, for most of his life, anyway...wasn't his real father! That meant...that meant he was really illegitimate! A bastard...a man who's name wasn't even really his own! He covered his mouth in shock, not knowing quite what to say.
"P-please, Burton, p-please...let me...explain." Tears began to fill her eyes as she clearly saw the pain that her truths were bringing her son...her first born son, the son she'd sacrificed everything for. Embarrassed by her secrets and lies, she rolled her head away in an attempt to avoid his questioning stare.
"Ma, w-why? Who? Who is my real father?" Burt grabbed her hand urgently in an attempt to push her further into revealing the truth. She was looking worse by the minute and he'd finally begun to realize that he would never be able to get a doctor out to the farmhouse in time.
"A...a long time ago...I was v-very young and...and very n-naive..."
"Oh, Nellie, I love you so much."
"I...I met a b-boy. It was almost...almost love at...first sight. I fell head over heals in love with him." As Penelope's eyes began to flood with tears, her voice became oddly calm as she began to remember a happier time in her life...a time before the worst tragedy she could ever imagine changed the course of her destiny. "He felt the s-same way about me."
"The man in the picture," Burt mumbled as he listened intently to his mother's story.
"You did see," she sighed, realizing that her son had, in fact, searched through the photo album that she'd fought to keep hidden for decades. "Y-yes. That was...him. He was the l-love of my...of my life."
"What happened?" He sat transfixed, enthralled in his mother's romantic tale.
"We...we wanted to get...married, but his family didn't...approve." She let out a slight sigh of sadness as she thought about all of the conflict that her love had caused. "You see, I was...was born and raised here in...Albanyville. He was from the...the best and most prominent family in town. I was just a p-poor farmer's daughter. You see, my Ma...your grandma died bringing me into this world. You never knew her. It was just me and my Pa. We...we never had m-much."
"I...I remember Grandpa. I wasn't that little when he died." Burt kept a firm hold on her hand as he listened intently. "But...but what about this man? What about my father?"
"His family...his family didn't approve of me because...because we weren't of...of the same class. I wasn't...good enough for him. They wanted to...to force me out of town...
"Mr. Burgess, we need to talk about this...this situation that is going on between my son and your daughter," the man said as he stood in the doorway.
"It turned out that his father bought our farm and threatened to have us thrown out if Pa didn't keep me away from him."
"What happened next?" Burt watched her carefully. He desperately wanted to finally learn the truth that she'd been hiding for so long, but saw that each word and each labored breath were bringing her closer and closer to the end. Could he push her into saying more and risk what it might do to her?
"Pa tried to keep me away from him. He did the best that he could do, but I was much too stubborn and head strong. I...I just wouldn't...listen. We started to meet in secret. Every fleeting moment we could find, we...we spent together."
Burt kept his eyes firmly locked on her. She was looking more frail than before and her eyes began to take on a vacant look as she gazed at him. He soon realized that she wasn't looking at him, she was looking at the past.
"W-what happened to him? What happened to my real father?"
"Pa found out that...that we were still seeing each other. Oh, he was furious. He...he started locking me up in my room. He wouldn't...he wouldn't l-let me out. He said it was...was for...for my own...good. But...but I had...to see him. I had to...t-to tell him...about...about..."
"About what? Ma, what did you have to tell him?"
"About you! I had to tell him that I...I was carrying his...child." Penelope swallowed again and attempted to reach for the glass of water that was on the nightstand. Burt quickly grabbed the glass and, though his hands were shaking, fought to hold it still so that she could take several sips.
"Ma, go on."
"Pa and I lived on the other side of the lake. Of course...of course this was...way before all...all of those...f-fancy homes s-started to go up over...there." She stopped to take a deep breath, but could only manage several quick gasps for air. "We planned to meet o-on this side of...of the lake. I w-waited for...for him, but he n-never sh-showed up."
Burt listened intently for her to continue.
"I...I got w-worried. I thought t-that maybe...maybe his p-parents h-had found out. I started the...the long walk up the p-path from the lake. I was almost...almost at the clearing w-when I s-saw...when I saw..."
"Saw what, Ma? What did you see?"
"He loved...horses. He loved to r-ride horses." She let a brief smile cross her lips when she struggled to lift her hand to caress Burt's cheek. "S-so much...like...so much like...you." As his eyes began to cloud over with heartbreak, she rolled her head away as if looking at Burt was nearly too much to bear.
"Ma, what happened to him?"
"He...he was on his horse and headed toward...toward the lake. I...I was standing...standing in a small grove of...trees. I s-saw...everything!"
"Ma! What did you see?" He felt his hands begin to shake and struggled to keep them still as he held onto her hand tightly. "Ma, what happened?"
"H-he was on his horse and...and it s-started to b-buck." Penelope's body suddenly began to convulse in anguish as tears began to stream down her cheeks. "H-he was thrown...from the horse. He was thrown and...and hit...hit his head...and died."
"Oh, my god."
"H-he was killed because...because he was c-coming to see m-me." She began to sob as the guilt she felt for her roll in her lover's death ate away at her heart. "W-when his parents found...found out w-what h-happened, they k-knew that I...I was involved. T-they b-blamed me for...for what h-happened. I-It was my fault."
"No, Ma, it wasn't your fault! It was an accident!"
"W-when they...when they found out about the baby...about you, they threatened to...threatened to have you...have you taken away. I c-couldn't let them do...do that to my...to my b-baby."
"What did you do?" His mother's story was affecting him deeply. In spite of the lies surround his own birth and family, his heart went out to her and the love that she'd lost. Looking at her, frail and weak, he realized that there was nothing he would be able to do to save her. No doctor could make it there in time. Even if he could, Burt realized that would be nothing that could be done.
"I...I ran...away," she muttered. "I hopped a...a train and...and wound up in...Kentucky. T-that's where I...where I met y-your Pa. I would...I would hang around the f-farms to be a-around the horses. They always r-reminded me...reminded me o-of him. Y-you're Pa knew about w-what had happened and fell...fell in love with m-me. He...he wanted to m-marry me and be y-your P-Pa."
Penelope kept her eyes locked on Burt as she struggled to find the strength to continue with her story. She had to tell him everything before it was too late.
"H-he had b-been...had been married b-before and they...they had been expecting...a child. B-both his w-wife a-and the...baby d-died in...childbirth. He so...so wanted to be a P-pa, b-but event...eventually he c-couldn't cope w-with you n-not being h-his and my...my love f-for y-your...father. T-that's really...really why h-he left."
"Oh, Ma. Who is he? Who is my real father?" Burt began to grow frantic, would she be able to tell him what he needed to hear before the end came? Would she be able to tell him the truth?
"E-everything you...need is in...in my top dresser...drawer." Penelope began to gasp again for air as her voice took on a more faint and raspy quality. "It's all...all you n-need to prove who...who you r-really are."
"Ma, who am I?"
"P-promise me t-that you'll finally g-get w-what's yours. M-make them...make them give y-you your birthright."
"I...I promise." Burt's eyes filled with tears. He knew the moment he dreaded was coming quickly. He knew that these would be her last moments. "W-who is my father?"
"Oh, darling," she sobbed as she looked up into the air. "I...I'm finally going...going to see you...again. Oh, my p-precious d-darling. Finally, w-what we c-couldn't have in life...w-we'll have in...."
"No, Ma, no!" He grasped her hand tightly as if in an attempt to hold on to her. He couldn't let her go. Not now. "No, Ma!"
"Finally, w-we'll be together." Penelope's eyelids began to flutter as her breathing grew more and more shallow. "Finally, darling, finally. Finally, Landon, I'm home."
TO BE CONTINUED
Burt must deal with his mother's dying wish.
For Now and Forever
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