For Now and Forever
EPISODE #68 (Wednesday
THE LAKE APARTMENT - ANNABELLE'S BEDROOM
"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?
THE SUNSET HOTEL - MARK & JUDITH'S PENTHOUSE - LIVING ROOM
"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.
Since 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?"
"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.
THE LAKE APARTMENT - ANNABELLE'S BEDROOM
"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."
"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?"
"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.
THE CALLISON HOME - LIVING ROOM
"So, remind me again how we managed to get ourselves talked into this?" Trevor Callison asked as he looked at his brother Reginald. "I can't believe that we all managed to let Father talk us into this."
"Well, it just seemed so important to him." Reginald replied with a sigh. "And besides, from the tone in his voice, we really didn't have much choice. I believe our attendance was an order, not a request."
"An order to placate that witch Annabelle, no doubt." Trevor clinched his teeth as he thought about how Annabelle Lake had managed to intrude on their family and push their mother out of the way. "I'm seriously thinking of having our father committed so he can have his head examined."
"I can't believe Mother allowed Maggie to come," Reginald commented.
"Momma didn't allow me to do anything!" Maggie Callison spoke up as she approached her older brothers. "I'm here because I want to give that old hag a piece of my mind!"
"Now, Maggie, just calm down." Trevor put his hands on her shoulders in an attempt to settle her. "Flying off the handle won't do anything tonight but make everyone more upset than they already are. Let's just stay on our best behavior, to pacify our father, and just get through this with no trouble. It won't solve anything."
"No 'buts', Maggie!" Reginald looked at her sternly as he shook his finger, hoping to warn her against making a scene. After taking a deep breath, he casually looked around to see his fiancée. "Now, where did Jillian and Grace run off to?"
"I think they're off somewhere having a little girl talk," Maggie giggled. "I just know they're talking about the wedding and about you, Trevor."
"Well, maybe." He blushed slightly as he thought about the professions of love that he and Grace had only recently made to each other.
"You two really do make a cute couple." Maggie grinned broadly as she teased her brother. She found it quite humorous that he seemed to be a little embarrassed by talk of his and Grace's budding relationship.
"Ah, I see I've finally got all of my children together in the same room!" Charles Callison spoke up as he walked into the living room. "Annabelle should be here shortly."
"Don't remind us," Reginald mumbled to himself in disgust.
"What was that, son?"
"I said 'I can't wait to eat!' I'm starved." He swallowed hard and then furrowed his brow. Jillian was starting to rub off on him.
"Well, I know that this evening is bound to be a little tense." Charles carefully looked at each of his children and flashed them looks of warning. He silently prayed that no one would do anything out of line. This party meant so much to Annabelle. "But, I'm glad that you're finally all here."
"We're not all here!" Trevor spat as his eyes began to burn in anger. "Mother isn't here! This entire family isn't present unless she's here, too! She's part of this family, not Annabelle Lake!"
Reginald reached over and gave his brother's shoulder a tight squeeze in an attempt to shut him up just as he saw Jillian and Grace walk into the room. He shook his head slightly to signal the tenseness of the scene to Jillian. It was becoming increasingly evident that the night would not go off without conflict.
"Trevor, I can understand your feelings," Charles spoke cautiously as he carefully looked at each of his children. "But there are certain things that are out of my hands. I...I hadn't planned on telling you all of this, tonight, but since you're all here..."
"Tell us what, Father?" Reginald eyed him curiously as Jillian joined him at his side and put her arm around him.
"Yes, Father, what is it now?" Trevor still felt angry about the entire situation, a mood that was not lost on Grace as she gently rubbed his back in hopes of settling him down.
Charles hesitated for a moment, taking a deep breath. "I received a rather awkward visit from your mother's attorney, this afternoon," he began, meeting each of his children's questioning stares. "He served me with official divorce papers. Your mother has filed for a divorce."
THE SUNSET HOTEL - MARK & JUDITH'S PENTHOUSE
- LIVING ROOM
"I certainly hope you're not planning on doing anything foolish," Mark said as he glared at Judith.
"What in the world are you talking about?" She eyed him curiously as she felt her nervousness begin to get the better of her.
"I hope you aren't planning to tell Burt Lamont the truth about this baby!" With all of the tension that his wife managed to cause in his life, Mark realized that he needed another drink and walked to the bar to mix another scotch and soda. "The last thing we need is for that piece of trash finding out."
"Burt is not trash!"
Mark spun around and watched her closely. "My lord, you do still have feelings for him! I wonder if precious Janet knows anything about this."
"J-Janet doesn't know anything about me and Burt," she lied. "What Burt and I shared is in the past. He's decided to move on with Janet. I am married to you!"
"And you're going to stay married to me! I've worked too hard to get where I am to have you ruin it all by shooting off your mouth!" He clinched his teeth tightly before taking another drink. "And, besides, I would think that you wouldn't want the scandal, either."
"Well, I've found myself growing tired of those people in Manhattan, actually." Judith strolled over to the sofa and sat down before beginning to flip through the pages of a magazine. She was doing her best to maintain her composure and not let her husband get the best of her. "Surprisingly enough, I've found myself actually liking it here in Albanyville."
"Dear, Jillian was right all along! This town does have a certain...charm, shall we say?" And it also had Burt! However, she wasn't about to tell Mark that!
"You're only hanging around here because of that lowlife bartender! If it wasn't for him, you wouldn't come within a hundred miles of this city!" As he walked away from the bar and towards the sofa, he kept his eyes locked on her. Despite her protestations, he was certain that there was something she wasn't telling him.
"My sisters are here! Why wouldn't I want to be close to my family?" Unable to find anything interesting enough to distract her from her conversation with her husband, Judith flung the magazine onto the coffee table. As she folded her arms across her chest, she kept her eyes looking straight ahead, never once turning them to look at Mark.
"Gee, let's see," he said as he lifted his finger to his chin in a rather exaggerated fashion as thought. "I know you can't stand Janet. You've been jealous of her for years since she stole the spotlight away from you with her unfortunate illness."
"That's not true!" Judith, unable to ignore him any longer, jumped up and spin around to face him. "I have never been jealous of Janet and I have never been jealous of Jillian! Why should I be jealous?"
"Well, Jillian's the baby. There's a certain amount of attention that gets focused on the baby of the family." Mark smirked slightly, realizing that he'd hit a nerve of truth. "True, you're all close and supportive of her now, but if she were to ever get in the way of something you wanted, you'd steamroll right over her! Family means nothing to you! Well...no one except your dear, precious Daddy!"
"You don't know a damn thing about my family or me!"
"Oh, Judith, I know you a lot better than you think I do." He maintained his cool exterior as he listened to the tinkling sounds that the ice cubes made in his glass. "I know that you're still in love with Burt...or at least you think you are!"
"W-what does that mean?" She looked at him cautiously, unsure about what he was getting at.
"Judith, when you had every chance in the world to have Burt Lamont, to run off with him, you dropped him like a sack of garbage because it would interfere with your high society lifestyle!" He carefully circled her, never once averting his eyes. "You only want him now because he wants your sister! This has nothing to do with love."
"What the hell do you know about love?" Judith glared at him angrily.
"I'm warning you, Judith," he spat, completely ignoring her question. "If you say one word concerning the truth about this baby, you'll regret it! If you embarrass me publicly by announcing your infidelity and your bastard child, I will make your life hell!"
"W-what do you mean?" She felt her hands began to shake as she contemplated her husband's threats.
"If you intend on making me a laughing stock for not being able to control my own wife, I'll be forced to drag you through the messiest divorce you've ever seen! I'll make sure your tawdry life is splashed in every gossip column, coast to coast. I'll be the one left standing and reaping everyone's sympathy for what a horrible, hideous wife I have!"
Without a word in rebuttal, Judith angrily spun around and stormed out of the room. She clearly realized that her husband wasn't making empty threats. As she slammed the door of her bedroom behind her, she feared what the ramifications of the events she'd already set in motion would be.
THE CALLISON HOME - LIVING ROOM
"She's filed for divorce?" Reginald's eyes grew wide from shock. Of course, he always knew that would be an option for his parents, but had never allowed himself to believe that it would actually happen.
"Yes, I...I have to admit that I was a little stunned, myself." Charles carefully rubbed his forehead, still slightly in shock about the divorce petition. "So, you see, you're mother had no intention of saving this marriage, either. She wants a divorce and wants to move on with her life. Why can't you allow me the same advantage?"
"But we're talking about Annabelle Lake!" Trevor shouted angrily. "That woman is a disgrace to this family and the mere fact that you are involved with her puts your state of mind in question!"
"Trevor, just calm down," Grace muttered as she held on to his arm tightly. "Getting worked up isn't going to solve anything."
He bit his lip as he tried to will himself to calm down. He realized that she was right. His father hadn't listened to a word he'd said, so far, so why in the world would he start now? His father seemed bound and determined to ruin his life and his family with his trashy mistress.
"Oh, this is just all my fault," Maggie began to sob. "If I'd just kept my trap shut."
"Maggie, you can't think like that," Jillian spoke up as she took the young girl into arms. "This is nothing to do with you."
"Yes, it does! I'm the one who...who..." Unable to stand the pain of what she'd done, Maggie bolted from the room in tears leaving her stunned family behind.
"I...I'm going to go talk to her," Jillian spoke up before chasing after Maggie.
"See! Do you see all of the pain that you've caused?" Reginald questioned with hurt and anger in his eyes. "Why did you have to do this? Why did you have to go and destroy our family?"
"Reginald, you're a grown man...an adult. I'm sure you can understand!" Charles looked at his oldest son earnestly. Why couldn't they see that people changed? Why couldn't they accept what was going on?
"I will never accept this!" Afraid of allowing his emotions to get the better of him, Reginald suddenly turned away to hide his pain. "And I will never understand it."
As Charles stood in the center of the room, surrounded by his family that had been devastated by his actions, he realized that this party would not be the happy coming together that Annabelle had envisioned. In fact, it had turned into a complete disaster and she hadn't even arrived!
"Well, I see everyone is here!" the cool voice came from the doorway to the living room.
"I...um...I tried to stall," Hannah, the family housekeeper, muttered awkward as she trailed along behind Annabelle as she stepped into the room. "But...but you know how she is."
Annabelle turned sharply to shoot the maid a hateful glance before approaching Charles and taking him by the arm. "Now that I'm here, the evening can begin. Let's all have a wonderful night of togetherness!"
Everyone looked at each other with a mixture of nervousness, anger, and apprehension. They all clearly realized that it would be a long, long night.
TO BE CONTINUED
As the Callison party continues, Burt thinks about his promise to his mother.
For Now and Forever
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