produced/written by G. Matthew Smith

EPISODE #68 (Wednesday 9/12/01) click here for a printable version of this episode
a week later - November 1935, evening


800 W. Rose St. Apt #3, Albanyville, ILAnnabelle Lake"Stephanie, darling, what do you think of this broach with this dress?" Annabelle Lake asked as she stood in front of the mirror and held up the piece of jewelry.  It was the night of the big Callison family dinner and she wanted to look her best.

"It looks okay," Stephanie Lake muttered to her mother as she watched her with apprehension.  "Look, Momma, are you sure this is such a good idea?"

"This is an excellent idea!" Annabelle exclaimed as she spun around to face her.  "This is going to be a night to remember."

Stephanie eyed her closely as her mother's words echoed in her ears.  That was exactly what she was afraid of.  Was her mother setting herself up for a devastating fall at the hands of the Callison family?

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The Sunset Hotel, Penthouse C, Albanyville, IL"I just can't believe that girl just disappeared without a trace," Mark Linford said as he swirled the mixture of scotch and ice cubes in his glass.  "Janet couldn't just vanish!"

"Well, she did," Judith Linford replied, matter-of-factly.  "How inconsiderate for that little twit to just run off and worry everyone half to death!"  

And Judith was worried.  Of course, she'd fully expected her sister to go lick her  wounds after the truth about her sordid past was revealed, but no one had seen or heard from her in weeks!  That made Judith seriously worried.  She'd always teased her younger sister relentlessly, even from childhood.  Why would she pass up any opportunity to do it in adulthood?  Janet's ridiculous relationship with Gordon Scott had only made her an easy target.  Of course, once Janet had murdered him in a fit of rage and quickly took a swan dive off the deep end, the younger sister started receiving the bulk of their Daddy's attention.  That didn't set well with Judith, not at all!

"Gee, Judith, you almost sound as if you care."  Mark's tone was more than a little sarcastic.  

Mark LinfordSince he and Judith had been married, he'd come to realize exactly what a twisted bunch the Stokes family really was.  However, they were still one of the most prominent families in Manhattan and his marriage to Judith had afforded him some of the greatest business contacts that he could ever dream of.  He wasn't about to let that go anytime soon.

"Mark, I do care!  She's my sister!"  She bit her lip nervously and began to rub her stomach, swollen with the child she was carrying.  "I don't want anything to happen to her."

"Well, for someone who cares, you sure have a funny way of showing it."  He took a sip of his cocktail and eyed her closely.  He knew his wife wasn't above an underhanded stunt or two.  "Are you sure you didn't have anything to do with Janet running off?"

"What?  Why would you even think such a thing?"  She breezed passed him as she tried to exude an air of nonchalance.  "Why would I do something that would make her so upset that she'd run away?"

"Burt Lamont."  Mark stared at her with his piercing eyes.  

Despite their differences and the strained nature of their marriage, he knew her better than anyone else.  The fact that her former lover was now involved with her sister was not something she was bound to deal with in a mature fashion.

"I know that the idea of him being in love with your sister just makes you green with envy."  He kept his eyes focused on her, waiting for a show of a response.  "If Janet were gone, that would clear the way for you to make a beeline right back to him.  Well, I'm here to tell you that that won't happen!"

"Don't be absurd!"  Judith let out a thin laugh in an attempt to hide her nervousness.  "What Burt and I had was over a long time ago.  He means nothing to me, now.  Let that little brat have him!  She always got my castoffs, anyway."

"And the fact that this baby is really his has nothing to do with it?"

Judith Stokes Linford"No, it doesn't!"  She glared at him and clinched her teeth.  "For all intents and purposes, this child is yours!  I can't let the truth become public knowledge and ruin my reputation.  Why, I'd be the talk of the country club!"

"I know you, Judith.  If it meant having your way, to hell with the country club."  He let out a wicked, hearty laugh.  "You never liked any of those old crows, anyway!"

She took a deep breath as she tried to steady her nerves.  All of Mark's questions were beginning to make her more and more uncomfortable.  Exactly what was he getting at?  What was he trying to find out?  He already knew about her relationship with Burt Lamont and the fact that Burt was the father of her child.  What more was there for him to know?  That uncertainty frightened her.  Almost as much as the revelation that she was directly responsible for Janet's disappearance.  If something had happened to her and her true roll in everything came out, she just knew her Daddy would never forgive her.  It was that realization that made Judith break out into a cold sweat.


800 W. Rose St. Apt #3, Albanyville, IL"Momma, why are you insistent on forcing yourself on the Callison family?" Stephanie asked as she sat on the bed and watched her mother preparing for her dinner party.  "You know they don't like you!"

"They just haven't gotten a chance to really know me."  Annabelle put on her earrings and carefully brushed a stay hair back into place.

"I think they know you about as well as they want to know you!"  Stephanie sunk back onto the bed, frustrated that she couldn't get her mother to listen to reason.

Catching her daughter's reflection in the mirror, Annabelle quickly turned to glare at her in disapproval before giving a sharp snap of her fingers.  "Darling, sit up straight!  No man would ever want to marry a girl who's a slouch."

Stephanie took a deep breath and did as she was told, correcting her posture.  "There's more to what a man sees in a woman than perfect posture and the right clothes or speech."

"Oh, no!  You've been reading those dreadful pulp romance novels again!"  She shook her head in disbelief before walking over to sit down on the bed next to her daughter.  "You listen to me, Stephanie.  All that kind of talk will get you is a broken heart.  Just look at Clark Saxon!"

Stephanie clinched her teeth at the mention of Clark's name.  The last thing she wanted to think about was Clark and the horrible way he'd attempted to use her.  Besides, he was long gone from Albanyville.  With any luck, he would never come back.

Noticing her chilly response to the topic of Clark, Annabelle swiftly changed gears.  "Well...what about Patterson?" she asked with a sly smile.  "Now, I'm sure he wouldn't want a wife who slouches."

Stephanie Lake"What does Patterson have to do with anything?" Stephanie questioned as she felt herself growing flustered.  "He and I are just friends!  That's it!"

"Really?"  Annabelle grinned as she quickly deduced how far from the truth her daughter's protestations were.  "You two seem to have gotten awfully chummy.  I think he'd make a wonderful husband for you.  He is still planning on becoming a doctor, isn't he?"


"Granted, I would have much preferred you with Reginald," she continued, disregarding the great discomfort she was causing her daughter.  "But, no, you had to hitch your horse to Dane Manchester!  Of all people!  What in the devil made you think that he could help you get Reginald away from Jillian.  Oh, if only that would have worked, you and I could have a double wedding."

"I am not rehashing my disastrous attempts at taking Reginald away from Jillian with you!"  Stephanie bolted from the bed and ran across the room in an attempt to escape her mother's pointed comments.  "Besides, I'm not the topic of conversation here!  You and your underhanded attempts to force yourself into the Callison family are!"

"Underhanded?"  Annabelle laughed heartily.  "Dear, I am not forcing myself on them.  Charles loves me!  Or, at the very least, I can convince him that he does."

"Not forcing yourself?  Momma, what do you call drugging him so that you can get him into bed with you because he wouldn't come near you in his right mind?"  Stephanie began to feel her blood pressure rise as she started to grow angry.

"I cannot believe you!"  Annabelle shouted in anger as her hand flew up to her chest in shock and pain.  "How can you sit there and act all high and mighty?  You're my daughter!  After everything I've done for you, after everything I've sacrificed in my life, I would have hoped that you would support me!  Why, I even had that little weasel Clark Saxon taken care of for you!"

"W-what?" Stephanie stammered, unsure that she'd heard her mother correctly.  "What do you mean?"

Annabelle Lake"Darling, why do you think that trash is no longer in school?"  She paused for a moment and, when no reply came, a sly smirk spread across her face.  "It's so good to know the right people."  Or, in this case, people you can force to do what you want them to do under threat of revealing past indiscretions to unknowing spouses.  "I simply phoned the dean and made a little...request.  I told him that there were certain...well, rumors, shall we say...that needed investigating.  I assured him that having Clark Saxon as a member of the student body would not be a good thing for Albanyville University."

"Mother!  You didn't!" Stephanie gasped in shock.

"I most certainly did!"  Annabelle smiled triumphantly as she rose from the bed and headed for the door.  "If it weren't for your dear mother, that nasty little boy would still be intent on destroying your life.  Like I said before, after everything I've done for you, how can you not support me?"

Stephanie stood in silence, still in shock from her mother's revelation.  She hadn't wanted her mother's interference, but had to admit that she was glad that Clark was out of her life.  Maybe she was right.  Maybe Stephanie did owe her.