For Now and Forever
Dedicated in Memory of Those Lost During the Tragedy of 9-11-01
EPISODE #67 (Tuesday
SPRINGHILL MANOR - 2ND FLOOR HALLWAY
"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 CALLISON HOME - CHARLES' OFFICE - LATER
"Well, 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."
"Um, yes. That she 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 talking about?
"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?
THE LAMONT HOME - PENELOPE'S BEDROOM
With tears in his eyes, Burt Lamont hesitantly released his mother's lifeless hand. Through his haze of tears, he gazed down at her and saw how at peace, how serene she seemed. It was almost as if, in death, she were finally, truly happy. He buried his face into his hands and sobbed, not just for the loss of his beloved mother, but also for the loss of his own identity.
Just moments before she'd died, Penelope Lamont stunned her son with the revelation that he was not a Lamont by birth. He was, in fact, her child from a romance with her first, true love. The shock had thrown him for a loop and now his heart whirled with emotions.
Taking a deep breath, Burt pulled himself away from his mother and rose to his feet. He turned to eye her dresser with apprehension and nervousness. Did he really have the strength to finally find all of the answers to his mother's secrets that he'd been searching for?
He walked over to the dresser, each foot falling as his mother's voice echoed in his head, urging him onward. With shaky hands, he pulled open the top drawer and instinctively reached into the very back to find a velvet box. Burt pulled it out and eyed it with fear and trepidation. He was about to find out everything that his mother had been hiding. However, he clearly knew that that knowledge would change his life forever.
Opening the box, Burt found a small collection of papers and mementos, things he'd never laid eyes on before. Including his own birth certificate. As his eyes grew wide, he pulled it out of the box and read it carefully.
Burt let out a small gasp as he read his real father's name and leaned against the dresser to steady himself. His father was a Callison...Landon Callison! That meant that Burt was actually a Callison, not a Lamont. He took a deep breath as the news tried to sink in. He just couldn't believe it.
Setting the certificate aside, he reached back into the box and pulled out a photograph. It was the same one that he'd seen in his mother's photo album. She must have realized that he'd seen it and hid it away for safe keeping. He quickly flipped it over to check for writing on the back, something he'd been unable to do the first time he'd seen the picture. With hardly any expression, he read what was written in his mother's own handwriting...Me and Landon, March, 1906.
The only thing remaining in the box other than a few childhood mementos of his and Randy's was a letter. On close examination, Burt realized that it was a letter written to his mother by Landon Callison. He felt his heart beginning to beat faster as he read what the letter contained...
Burt let out a heavy sigh as he slowly began to realize the truth. Landon Callison was his father. Burt was, in fact, a Callison. As he turned to look back at the body of his late mother, still laying peacefully on her bed, he thought about his final promise to her. He had all the information and all of the proof, now what in the world would he do?
SPRINGHILL MANOR - LIBRARY
"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.
"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..."
"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.
THE MONROE HOME - LIVING ROOM
"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!"
"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!"
"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.
THE CALLISON HOME - CHARLES' OFFICE
"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 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."
He 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.
TO BE CONTINUED
The Callison family gathers together.
For Now and Forever
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