HOME - CHARLES' OFFICE - LATER
Sara, dear, if you
need any help just let me know," Annabelle Lake said as she cradled the
telephone receiver against her ear. She turned toward the sound of Charles
Callison walking into the room and was quick to notice a strained expression on
his face. "Okay, dear, good-bye."
"So, how are Sara and
Dane adjusting to their newfound wealth?" Charles asked in a rather detached
tone as he sat down at his desk. "I still can't believe
that Thornton Preston left almost his entire estate to them. It just
doesn't...make any sense."
"I know, darling, but I
just can't think of a more deserving couple." She walked around
behind him a gently glided her hands across his shoulders. "They've
struggled so much since they got married. I have to confesses that I was
less than thrilled with her choice of Dane Manchester as a husband; but what can
I say? Sara's inherited that notorious Summers' stubborn streak."
has," he mumbled as he allowed his eyes to drift to the framed photograph
of his own family that sat on his desk. As he only half-listened to
Annabelle's words, his mind drifted to thoughts of what his own children would
inherit from him...a penchant for heartbreak? A legacy of betrayal?
"Okay, Charles, what's
wrong?" She stood back with her hands on her hips and examined him
closely. Although they were in the same room, he was clearly a million
miles away. Something was definitely on his mind.
"Oh, it's just...the
kids," he muttered before letting out a heavy sigh and running his hands
through his hair. "I just can't get them to understand about the
problems between me and their mother. I don't think they're ever going to
be able forgive me for this entire mess I've created."
Annabelle took a deep
breath. No matter how well things were progressing in her plans to marry
Charles, her largest stumbling block would remain to be the rest of the Callison
family. Though he and Francis might actually divorce, would he really
marry her without the blessings of his children? Annabelle wasn't really
sure. She thought that he might have enough of an independent mind to do
it...if only out of stubbornness; but still wasn't convinced that he wasn't
vulnerable where his children's opinions were concerned.
Annabelle rubbed her chin as
she began to think. How could she get the rest of the Callison family to
support her relationship with Charles? She sighed when she realized that
"support" wasn't exactly the right word. Tolerate was more like
it. As an idea struck her, she smiled broadly.
"Charles, darling, what
about a dinner party?"
"A what?" He
quickly turned to look at her in confusion. What the devil could she be
"What about a Callison
family dinner party?" She feigned a smile of warmth and delicately ran
her fingers along his cheek. "It would be a wonderful chance for all
of us to be together in a not quite so difficult setting. It would bring a
more relaxed mood and maybe everyone can see me as more than an enemy from the
outside and more as a friend."
Charles eyed her closely as he
evaluated the suggestion. Would such a party really bring forth the
desired results? Would a more relaxed setting actually smooth over the
tensions his family experienced concerning Annabelle?