54 Spring Lake Dr., Albanyville, IL"Mrs. Preston, why are you still here?" Sara asked as she walked into the room with the author's widow following right behind her.  "I would have suspected that you'd have left by the time I'd gotten off the phone with my aunt."

"Well...I..." Mrs. Preston stammered as she kept her eyes glued on Sara.  It was if she were studying every curve of the young woman's face, her eyes, every strand of hair.  She seemed to be looking her over as if she were searching for something.

Sara Manchester"Is there anything else I can help you with?"  Sara turned to face her and caught Mrs. Preston staring at her intently.  She began to feel her heart race as the odd expression that shown in Mrs. Preston's eyes began to unnerve Sara.  "I...I thought you said you'd found what you were looking for?"

"Oh, I-I did!"  Mrs. Preston nodded with awkwardness as she hugged the folder more snuggly under her arm.  "I found exactly w-what I needed."

Sara eyed her again, cautiously, and tried to figure out the reasons behind the sudden apparent change in Mrs. Preston's demeanor.  "Is there something wrong?  You keep staring at me.  Look, I've told you that I have no idea why your husband felt the need to mention me or my husband in his will, let alone leave us the bulk of his estate.  I assure you that I did nothing to..."

Mrs. Thornton Preston"No!  T-that's not it."  Mrs. Preston quickly looked away, embarrassed that she'd been caught staring.  She turned around nervously and realized that she had to leave.  She had to get out of there.  "I...I'm sorry.  I really m-must be going."

She rushed out of the library and hurried out the front door leaving Sara to stand in amazement and confusion.  Once the door had shut behind her, Mrs. Preston leaned back against it in an attempt to catch her breath and collect her thoughts.

Had Thornton learned the truth?  Did he find out who Sara Manchester really was?  Did he use that information as a motive for seducing the young woman and then leaving her everything in his will?  Was it all in an attempt to humiliate and embarrass his own wife?  Mrs. Preston was unsure of what the truth in that matter might be; but, as she looked down at the folder that might tell her everything she needed to know, she greatly feared the trauma that the truth would surely bring.  As she rushed to her waiting car, she prayed that the past had not come back to haunt her.


43 Landings Ct., Albanyville, IL"Stephanie, you know as well as I do how Dane can be," Patterson Monroe said as he sat next to her on the sofa.  "He's one of my best friends, but that doesn't blind me to the fact that he can be spiteful and vengeful.  If you were to go to the dean with this information about his cheating, he's bound to know who told."

"I guess it would be pretty obvious since I'm working in the admissions  office."  She hung her head slightly as she considered what Patterson was saying.  "So, are you saying I should just forget about everything that he did to me?  Am I supposed to forget that, because of him, my life is ruined?"

"Would you stop being so overly dramatic!"  He laughed and gave her a warm hug of support.  "Your life is most definitely not ruined!  A little complicated, maybe, but not ruined.  The only person that can ruin your life is you, not Dane."

"I...I guess you're right," she confessed with a nod.  "Turning him in wouldn't really do anything, in the long run.  He'd just find someway to get back at me.  Lord only knows what he'd do!"

"Exactly."  Patterson leaned back and eyed her closely.  There was another little piece of information that she held onto that was much more important than Dane Manchester's underhandedness at getting into Albanyville University.  "What are you going to do about your mother?" he asked cautiously.  "What are you going to do with the knowledge you have about how she drugged Charles Callison in an attempt to ruin his marriage?"

"What do you mean 'what am I going to do'?" Stephanie asked with a bewildered look on her face.  "I-I'm not going to do anything!  My mother trusts me to keep her secret and I cannot betray that!"

Patterson Monroe"My god, Steph!  You've seen how much heartbreak that family has gone through because of her!"  He shook his head slightly in disbelief at how blind she was were her mother was concerned.

"But, Paddy!  She's my mother!"  She clinched her teeth tightly in frustration.  Why couldn't he see that, if anything, she owed her mother her loyalty.  Throughout her entire life, her mother had been the only person she could truly count on.  She'd sacrificed and worked so that Stephanie could grow up better than she had.  How could she repay all of that with betrayal?

"Your mother has systematically ripped apart one of the strongest marriages in Albanyville and, in the process, devastated an entire family!  How can you sit there and defend her?"  Patterson's face began to flush with anger.  After his parents' deaths, the Callison family had almost been like a second family to him.  How could he sit by and watch them suffer so much when he knew she held the key to ending their troubles?

"She's my mother!"

Patterson took a deep breath in an attempt to calm himself before finally speaking again.  Maybe he should try a different tactic.  "Honey, you've changed so much.  You're not the same scheming girl I used to know.  I know you want, more than anything, to make up for everything you did to Reginald and Jillian.  I know you want to work your way back into the good graces of everyone in this town.  Honesty is the only way."

"How is telling the truth about my mother any different than telling the truth about Dane?" she asked pointedly as she glared at him.

He faltered slightly as he tried to think of the exact differences and put them into words.  "I...well...it just is!"

Stephanie Lake"So, you're saying that either I rat out my mother and become the heroine of the Callison family or keep my trap shut and stay the town pariah for the rest of my life?"  Stephanie pursed her lips together tightly in frustration.  How could she sell out her own mother in an attempt to selfishly redeem herself?  "I...I won't do it!"

She pulled herself out of Patterson's embrace and bolted off of the sofa.  "I will not do that to my mother!  I will not destroy the only real family I've got just to help my own selfish needs!"

"You've got Sara!"

"Sara hates me!  You know good and well that she hasn't spoken to me since her wedding to Dane!  I will not turn my back on my mother and you can't make me!"  

With an angry glare, Stephanie stuck out her bottom lip in defiance before turning on her heel and storming out of the house.  Patterson could only sit in silence and worry that, in his desire to help the Callison family, he'd caused a detrimental setback to Stephanie's transformation.


2210 Elmwood Ln., Albanyville, IL"Annabelle, I don't...I don't know if that's such a good idea."  Charles eyed her cautiously as he mulled over the logistics of her plan in his head.  "You aren't exactly the most liked person with my family.  I just don't know how well this would turn out."

"Oh, darling, it would be wonderful!" she cooed softly as she gently laid her hand on his cheek.  "Just think!  It would finally give the children a chance to see me in a different light...a different setting.  It would give us all a chance to get to know one another better."

"Dear, I think they might know you about as well as they want to."  He moved away from her and walked across the room before lighting a cigarette.  

He took several long drags, buying himself time to consider her idea.  Was it wise to put everyone together under the same roof, let alone in the same room?  Reginald had been more than vocal about his disdain for his relationship with Annabelle and Trevor's own anger had forced him to move out of the house.  And what about poor Maggie?  She'd already been so traumatized by the whole ordeal between him and Francis.  Would such an event hurt her even more?

"Charles, no matter what woman you were to wind up with, if it isn't their mother, then they'll be upset."  

Annabelle LakeAnnabelle walked over to him and wrapped her arms around him.  She just had to convince him of this dinner.  She knew she could be on her best behavior.  Without the support of Charles' family, she realized that she might never convince him to marry her.  She just had to get in their good graces.

"Are you going to let your children control your every thought and every move for the rest of your life?"

"N-no!"  He spun around to face her and looked her in the eyes.  "I am my own man.  My children do not control me!"

"Oh, Charles, your children are adults!  Surely they can accept that you are an adult, as well, with your own desire for happiness.  Why aren't you willing to show them how happy we really are?  If they see that, than surely they'll give their blessing and support.  I just know they want you to be happy."

"Maggie is not an adult!"  He glared at her angrily.  His daughter had probably been the most traumatized by this entire situation.  She had been the one to discover him in the arms of Annabelle, a woman that was not her mother or his wife.  He clearly realized how much Maggie blamed herself for everything that had gone wrong between him and Francis.

"She's also not a little girl, anymore, Charles," Annabelle reminded.  "She's well on her way to being a grown woman.  I know she wants to be treated like an adult.  Just think, Charles, your entire family together at once, seeing exactly how happy we are together.  A family dinner is just the thing to bring everyone together again."

Charles CallisonHe rested his chin in his hand as he began to consider her idea.  It would be nice to have the entire family together, for a change.  It seemed like so long since everyone would gather around the dining room table for breakfast, discussing their plans, and for dinner to talk about the events of the day.

However, he quickly realized that it wouldn't be the same.  Francis would not be there and Annabelle was only a poor and improper substitute in the eyes of his family.  Although, it would give them a chance to see that change was a part of life.  Maybe they would see Annabelle in a different light and accept, if not approve, of their relationship.

"Okay," Charles relented as he reached out and pulled her into his arms.  "If it means so much to you and you think it's a good idea, we'll have this dinner party."

"Oh, Charles, you won't regret this!" she said excitedly as she rested her head on his shoulder.  "This is just the thing to make everything all right."

He silently prayed that he wasn't opening up a can of worms best left sealed.  It was all against his better judgment, but how could he say 'no'?  Unfortunately, he couldn't shake the uneasy feeling that the night would be doomed to disaster.



The Callison family gathers together.


produced/written by G. Matthew Smith

2001- 2011 Classic Soap Productions