For Now and Forever
EPISODE #104 (Thursday,
THE DAVIS HOME - LIVING ROOM
"Darling, what's wrong? Why do you...seem so uncomfortable around me?" A concerned and worried Trevor Callison asked.
"I'm not...uncomfortable." Grace Davis wrapped her arms around herself and hugged herself tightly. "I'm just...just upset about my mother and I...want to be left alone to deal with it in my own...my own way."
"I think that there's more to it than that," Trevor sighed as he keep his eyes firmly focused on her. He paused and bit his lip as he tried to find the right words to voice his true worries and suspicions. "Grace, does any of this have anything to do with Dane?"
"What?" Grace gasped in shock and confusion as she spun around to finally face him. "What do you mean? What would Dane have to do with any of this? This is about my mother!"
"I don't think so," he responded bluntly and then paused to take a deep breath. "Grace, I know all about the snow storm. I know all about how you wrecked Douglas' car and got stuck with Dane. That's what this is all really about, isn't it?"
Grace's jaw dropped and she felt herself gasp for air. Trevor knew! He knew everything about what happened between her and Dane that night! As she felt her heart began to race, she immediately grew frightened. How would she be able to explain what happened? How could she make Trevor understand?
THE CALLISON HOME - LIVING ROOM
"Darling, are you all right?" Charles Callison asked his wife softly as they sat next to one another on the sofa. "How are you holding up?"
"How do you think I'm holding up?" Francis Callison responded. "I've been arrested and charged with murder and my own son seems to think that I'm guilty!"
"No, he doesn't," Charles insisted with a shake of his head. "He's just...playing devil's advocate. He's throwing out wild suppositions about what a jury might think." Of course, he wasn't entirely sure that that's what Reginald was doing, but it sounded good.
"I...I don't know," she muttered and carefully rested her head in her hand, the weight of the entire situation bearing down upon her. "I just...I just don't know what's going on anymore."
"Here, come with me," he said and rose from his seat before taking his wife by the hand.
"W-where are we going?" She looked at him curiously.
"You need to get some fresh air. It will do you some good." He paused and glanced over across the room at his son Reginald who was seated next to his fiancée Jillian Stokes while they talked with attorney Douglas Davis. "Let's leave them alone to go over what Reginald saw---or rather thought he saw---that night."
"O-okay," Francis stammered as she rose to her feat and followed Charles to the door.
"Your mother and I are stepping outside for some air," Charles called out to Reginald as he took their coats from the closet in the foyer. "We'll be back in a few minutes."
Without saying a word, Charles led her out the front door and onto the porch. Although they both had on their thick winter coats, they didn't really need them. It was an uncharacteristically warm late-February evening. As he pulled out a cigarette and prepared to light it, he leaned against one of the columns and watched Francis carefully. There, in the moonlight, time seemed to have rolled back and she looked just like she had when they'd first married. In that moment, just like the moment from his memory, he was taken by her soft, gentle beauty.
"Y-you're staring," she muttered awkwardly with sort of a half-grin.
"I'm...sorry," he blushed. "I was just...thinking about how you looked when we first married."
"Oh, that was ages ago," she laughed. "We were both so much younger then."
"You look exactly the same to me."
Francis smiled at the comment and then inhaled deeply, taking in the refreshing crispness of the evening air.
"Who would ever have thought that we would have wound up like this," she sighed and then hung her head. "I know I didn't."
"Darling, lets not talk about that now," he replied and then lifted his hand to gently caress her cheek. "You don't know how much I want to just forget all of that ever happened. I...I've made so many mistakes."
"We both have," she nodded, "but how can we forget? How can we forget about Annabelle and everything that's happened over the past year when she's still haunting us from her grave? Charles, I'm accused of her murder!"
"I...know that, dear." He paused and took a deep breath.
"And...and my own son thinks that I'm guilty!" She hesitated and then looked up into Charles' eyes. "He does believe that, doesn't he? He's not just making up hypothetical assumptions for some imaginary jury?"
"I...don't know what's going through that head of his," Charles confessed. "How he can even for a moment consider that you might have done this is beyond me."
"Charles, if my own son can't be convinced of my innocence, how am I supposed to believe that a jury won't be?"
"Darling, we'll get through this," he muttered softly as he took her into his arms. "Once all of this is over, our lives are finally going to get back to normal."
"Normal?" Francis looked up at him curiously. "I don't even think I know what normal is anymore. Normal used to mean you and me in this house with our children and..."
"We can have all of that back." He looked down lovingly into her eyes. "We can overcome everything that's been thrown in our way."
"How, Charles? How?"
"Because we love one another," he said tenderly. "No matter what's happened---no matter what horrible things that we've had to go through---I've always loved you and you've always loved me. That's the only thing that truly matters."
"Oh, Charles," Francis sighed, "I...don't know if that's enough anymore."
"Darling, it's always enough," he nodded and then pulled her deeper into his arms and held her tightly.
As he looked down into her eyes, he could see the apprehension that she felt. He could also see the love for him that had never gone away no matter what mistakes he'd made. Caught up in the moment, he pressed his lips tenderly to hers and kissed her deeply. Although at first startled by the passionate display, Francis didn't resist and quickly found herself returning his kisses with just as much love as they were given.
THE STOKES MANSION - LIVING ROOM
"Hello, Leticia," Nelson Stokes spoke softly, yet firmly, as he stepped from the foyer into the living room. "I hope you don't mind. The door was open so I let myself in."
"You really shouldn't have done that, Nelson. What do you want?" Leticia Stokes asked coolly as she glanced up from the novel she'd been reading. "I think that I've said everything to you that I need to say."
"Well, I..." He glanced down at the floor to avoid her penetrating gaze. "I'd hoped that after the wedding, we could have come to some kind of understanding." He paused and looked up at her again and took a deep breath. "I'm willing to meet you half way. I'm willing to make certain...concessions. I'd hoped that my being at the wedding might have been a step in the right direction."
"Oh, Nelson," she sighed with a shake of her head as she rose from the sofa and walked over to him. "You...you don't know how much it meant to me to see you at the church. You don't know how much it meant to Jillian. She so wanted to see you there on her wedding day."
"I know," he nodded. "That's why I was there. I had to be there and see my little girl get married." He paused as a slight gleam filled his eyes. "Of course, good fortune smiled on our family that day and she didn't marry that boy after all."
"Well, it's true! You don't know how grateful I am that the police showed up and put a stop to that travesty of a wedding. They kept her from making the biggest mistake of her life. Now she's got the time to reevaluate exactly what kind of family she's getting involved with. I know that she's going to realize that I'm right about this."
"You haven't changed," Leticia spat angrily. "You haven't changed, at all! You come here with your solemn and genteel demeanor and try to convince me that you're willing to put aside your own opinions in hopes of convincing me that things have changed? I can't believe that I almost believed you!"
"But, I am willing to work things out!" he insisted firmly. "I know we can. We can have everything back just the way they were before and..."
"I don't want things the way they were before!" Leticia's jaw tightened as she folded her arms defiantly across her chest. "Don't you understand that the way things were before is the exact reason I left? Are you so wrapped up in your own over-glorified opinions and sense of superiority that you can't see that?"
"Darling, the Callison family is not a family that any of our daughters should get involved with!" He began pacing angrily around the room. "He cheated on her with that horrible Lake girl and broke Jillian's heart and then his father ran around on his mother with that girl's mother! And now? His mother is charged with murder!"
"Nelson, you know it's not as cut and dried as that." She reached out and grabbed his arm in hopes of getting him to listen to reason. "I don't believe for a minute that Francis Callison is guilty and soon the police are going to prove that!"
He paused and glared at her. "I will not allow Jillian to marry a Callison nor will I let Janet continue to take up with that half-breed Callison! Burt Lamont is so far below Janet that the entire idea of them together is ludicrous. Of course, considering her less than stellar judgment in men, I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Why couldn't they be like Judith? Why couldn't they find nice, upstanding young men like Mark? Jillian had a perfect man with that Manchester boy, but she just threw him away. That's who she should be marrying!"
"Dane Manchester is already married!"
"Only because Jillian is too blind to see what's best for her," Nelson grumbled.
"I'm not having this discussion with you again," Leticia muttered with a wave of her hand and a shake of her head as she prepared to walk past him. "I have plans this evening and I need to finish getting ready."
"Plans?" He cocked an eyebrow and looked at her curiously. "What kind of...plans?"
"Not that it's any of your business, but I have a date!" she announced bluntly. "A date that you're keeping me from."
"Um...well..." he stammered as his expression began to soften. "I'm sure an evening out with the girls will be a nice thing to take your mind off of Jillian's disastrous wedding. So, what do you have planned? A game of bridge? An evening at the theatre?"
"It's not a night with the girls," Leticia sighed with disbelief of his shortsightedness. "I have an evening planned with a man."
"A...what?" Nelson's jaw dropped with shock and he stared at her blankly as if he were certain that he hadn't heard her correctly. "What kind of foolishness are you involved in, now?"
"I don't think I was very vague. I meant exactly what I said." She responded coldly. "I have a date with a very nice gentleman---a gentleman that knows how to treat a woman and treats me with more kindness and respect than you ever thought about treating me!"
"I can't believe I'm hearing this," he spat incredulously. "Leticia, you are still my wife and you are always going to be my wife. I demand that you give up this adulterous foolishness this instant!"
"You demand? You demand?" Leticia spat. "You've been demanding of me for decades! Well, your days of demanding anything from me are over!" She paused and took several long, deep breaths to calm herself just as the delicate chimes of the doorbell began to fill the house. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to answer the door!"
"Oh, now you're even doing the maid's job, I see!"
"I gave Ruby the night off," she replied as she stormed through the foyer and to the door. As she flung it open, her expression soften slightly from the sight of Dr. Fred Rutherford on the other side.
"I...I'm not late, am I?" Fred asked as he looked at Leticia curiously, immediately sensing her tension. "If I am, I'm sorry. I got tied up at the hospital and..."
"No, you're not late," she sighed. "I am. I still...have to finish getting ready. Let me just...go upstairs and I'll..."
"Ah, now I see," Nelson spoke up as he casually strolled into the foyer. "You've been running around with this...this quack!"
"I understand, now," Fred muttered to Leticia as he pulled her closer to his side. "Hello, Mr. Stokes. I hadn't expected to see you again so soon."
"I bet you didn't!"
"And, as I'm sure you've gathered, this beautiful lady and I have plans for this evening." Fred glanced over at her and smiled warmly.
"Over my dead body!" Nelson spat. "She's my wife and I refuse to allow her to be seen on the arm of another man---especially the likes of you!"
"Nelson, you don't have a damn thing to say about it!" She shot him a angry glance before turning to look at Fred again. "Just let me go upstairs and finish getting ready and then we'll be ready to go." She glanced at Nelson again before returning her focus to Fred. "Darling, you will be alright down here, won't you?"
"Don't you worry," Fred smiled. "I've handled much worse things than him in my life."
"Wanna bet?" Nelson grumbled under his breath.
"Darling, I won't be long." Leticia leaned in and gave Fred a warm kiss on the lips that took him by surprise. He hadn't expected such a display from her---especially in front of Nelson---but relished the evidence of the progress he was making.
Meanwhile, across the room, Nelson's eyes blazed with anger from the sight of the kiss. His wife was kissing another man! She was intent on divorcing him for a simple doctor who was so far beneath her that Nelson had to resist the urge to laugh at the preposterousness of it all. As his eyes narrowed and he stared at them intently, Nelson realized that he had to do everything in his power to save Leticia---not only from the "good doctor", but from herself as well.
THE DAVIS HOME - LIVING ROOM
"Grace, aren't you going to say anything?" Trevor asked as he watched her closely. "That really is what all of this is about, isn't it?"
"Oh, Trevor," she gasped. "I'm...I'm so sorry. You have to understand that it's not like you think. I...I..." She bit her lip as tears filled her eyes and she immediately looked away. "How...did you find out?" She paused and thought deeply. "I know! It was Dane! Dane told you! I bet that rat just couldn't wait to..."
"Hold on," he sighed. "It wasn't Dane. I haven't said two words to that jerk since that day in the bookstore."
"Dane didn't say anything?" She popped her head up and eyed him curiously. "Well, if it wasn't Dane than..."
"It was Douglas," Trevor confessed. "He...thought that I knew. You really shouldn't be angry with him."
"Douglas?" She furrowed her brow as she thought. How could Douglas have told Trevor about what happened that night in the snow storm. Her brother didn't know what really happened. Unless... No! Douglas couldn't know! He'd be so disappointed in her! But that had to be it. "Oh, Trevor, you have to believe me, I never meant for it to happen. I really didn't want..."
"Honey, just calm down," he laughed. "It's really not that big of a deal. I admit that I...was a little shocked and upset that you hadn't told me about it when I first found out. I've been waiting all this time for you to come to me with it yourself and..."
"Not that big of a deal?" Grace looked at him intently as she tried to understand what he was saying. "But I..."
"I know that you feel bad because you kept it from me because you didn't want me to worry and you were afraid that I'd be upset with you." He reached out for a stunned and confused Grace and pulled her into his arms. "And I admit that at first I was very upset with you. I couldn't believe that you were foolish enough to go out on those roads like they were."
"Yes. I know how bad they were that night." As he held her in his arms, he gently stroked her hair while she slowly began to calm down. "But I finally realized that if I'd been in the same situation as you were, I would probably have done the same thing. If I thought that my mother needed me, I don't care what the weather was like. I'd be there."
"Y-yes, that's...exactly the way that I...felt."
"Just the thought of something happening to you on those roads just sends a chill down my spine." A somber look covered Trevor's face as he thought about having to face a life without her. "I don't know what I'd do if I were to lose you."
"I...know how you feel."
"Thank god you weren't hurt." He pulled away just long enough to give her a tender kiss on the forehead. "And, as difficult as this is for me to say, I'm kinda glad that Dane was there for you. I know that if you'd had to go through that all alone you'd have been hysterical."
"I...I was," she nodded weakly and slowly pulled away from him. "Dane...helped to calm me down. He...was very...comforting."
"Well, maybe that jerk has his good points after all."
"Don't count on it," Grace thought to herself.
"I just wish that you'd have told me about it," Trevor sighed.
"Well, I...I would have, but..." Her voice trailed off slightly as she looked away from him, unable to meet his eyes. "But I was afraid of what you might think if you found out that I'd gone out on those roads and...well...that I'd wound up alone with Dane. I know you don't like him and..."
"And you used to have that big crush on him," Trevor reminded. "I know that you got over that a long time ago, but I bet being in such an emotional situation with Dane brought a lot of those feelings back."
"Y-you could say that," she muttered awkwardly.
"It just reminded you of how foolish you felt when you finally realized exactly what kind of person Dane is. I bet he even tried to charm you even though you were overcome with emotion because of your mother."
"Y-yes," she nodded. "He...he was acting exactly like you would expect him to."
"And I know what kind of an effect that guy has on girls. I don't necessarily understand it, but I know that some girls find themselves quite taken with him." Trevor paused for a moment and rested his chin in his hand as he thought. "I bet his kindness and support managed to stir up some of those old feelings."
"Of course, as level headed as you can be, you managed to keep your wits about you."
Grace turned away from Trevor so that he couldn't see all of the color drain from her face.
"And you really didn't want to tell me about it because you were afraid that I might be jealous and that I might go after him." He let out a hearty laugh. "Don't worry. I think you're more than capable of handling Dane on your own. I'm sure that if he ever did try anything again, you'd quickly put him in his place."
"Oh, there's no doubt about that," she responded flatly.
"Grace, I love you and trust you. Don't you ever doubt that." He paused and smiled. "And don't you ever worry me like that again!"
"Oh, Trevor, I'm so, so sorry," she sobbed and fell into his arms. "Could you...ever forgive me?"
"Sweetheart, I've already forgiven you," he muttered softly as he held her, "because there's really nothing to forgive."
As Grace held onto Trevor tightly she felt her eyes flood with tears because she knew that if Trevor ever found out what really happened with Dane that night, his forgiveness would most certainly not be as forthcoming. In fact, she knew full well that she would lose him forever.
THE CALLISON HOME - FRONT PORCH
"Oh...oh, Charles," Francis gasped slightly as she pulled away from him. "I...I..."
"Yes, darling?" Charles asked and looked lovingly at her.
When their eyes met, they shared a connection---a bond formed by a lifetime of love and memories. In one, brief moment, every drop of joy that they'd ever experienced came rushing back.
That night at the school dance when they'd first met. The long afternoons lying in the grass under the trees and reading poetry as they slowly fell in love. Their glorious wedding. The births of their children. A lifetime of love and a lifetime of memories all in one look.
"C-Charles, I..." Francis stammered, overcome by her feelings and unsure what to say.
"No. Don't say a word," he replied and then carefully brushed a lock of hair from her forehead. "You and I have never had to say anything to one another. We've always known what the other was thinking. We share a bond and a connection that could never be broken."
"I...know that," she sighed softly before taking a deep breath, "but I...well...was afraid that it had been. Annabelle came along and..."
"No more talk about her," he muttered as he again pulled his wife into his arms. "We've been through too much because of her as it is." He paused and took another deep breath as he took in the feeling of Francis wrapped in his arms. "But no matter what she's done, no matter what horrible schemes and ploys she pulled, she never replaced you in my heart. Darling, I love you. I've always loved you. Even when...we weren't together, even when I tried to force myself to move on for your sake, I still loved you."
"You have never been far from my thoughts. Even when we weren't together, you were always there---in my head and in my heart."
"I...I feel the same way," she replied with a soft sigh. "I tried to forget about you and what we shared. I tried...to move on to protect myself from the pain; but I...well...could never forget how much I loved you."
"Darling, do you still love me?" He briefly pulled away from her and looked intently into her eyes. "Do you still carry me in your heart just like I always carry you?"
"Y-yes," she confessed and hung her head. "Charles, I've always loved you. That's something that...I could never forget or move past. I still love you."
"You just don't know how wonderful that makes me feel," he smiled as he lifted his hand to brush a tear of joy from her cheek. "I want our lives back. I want my family back. I want things to be like they were before...everything went so wrong."
"You have no idea how much I desperately want the same thing."
"Please tell me that you'll give me another change---give us and our marriage another chance."
"Charles, I am still your wife," Francis smiled warmly. "I will always be your wife. The vows I took said for better or for worse. We've been through the worst. I'm ready to finally have some better---with you."
"Darling, come home," he implored. "Bring Maggie and move back in to our home. Let's be a family again."
"Oh, Charles, I want that so much," she sighed and hugged him tightly. "I want us to be a family again."
"I promise you, Francis, we'll get through this," he assured as he held her tightly in his arms. "And I promise that I will stand by you no matter what. I'll never leave you again."
"And I...I'll never leave you."
And then, wrapped in each other's arms as they stood on the porch on a chilly winter night, they were filled with a warmth that surpassed the seasons. The clouds that had filled their days parted and a ray of hope for the future broke through. They were certain that, no matter what, they could weather any storm as long as they had their love and devotion to guide them.
THE STOKES MANSION - FOYER
"So, Dr. Rutherford, tell me a little about yourself?" Nelson asked as he rocked back and forth on his heels and inspected his romantic rival closely. "I assume from what my wife has told me that you hold a position at Albanyville General?"
"That's correct," Fred nodded as he looked at Nelson suspiciously. He was certain that Leticia's estranged husband was up to something.
"I could have sworn that I was under the impression that you were seeing Francis Callison romantically." Nelson subtly cocked an eyebrow, feeling that he was onto Fred and his game.
"I don't know where you might have gotten that impression," Fred countered. "True, Francis and I have become rather close, but it's only as friends. She's been through quite a bit this past year and I find her to be a very dear and lovely woman, but..." He paused and smiled slightly. "But I find Leticia much more fascinating and appealing---romantically speaking, of course."
"Don't you mean to say that you find her money to be more appealing?" Nelson shot Fred a hateful and accusatory glance. "Isn't that the real reason you're intent on wining and dining my wife?"
"Soon to be ex-wife," Fred reminded firmly and folded his arms tightly across his chest. He was quickly growing tired of Nelson's word games. "And, no, that's not the reason I'm interested in Leticia. I appreciate her for her. Apparently that's something you can't---or aren't willing---to do. She's tired of you, Nelson. She's tired of your control and she's tired of your overbearing condescension."
"You have no idea what you're talking about!"
"I don't?" Fred chuckled. "You see, Leticia feels comfortable enough to confide in me about her deepest fears and concerns. You don't really care about her or her innermost thoughts."
"That's not true!"
"You might have been married to her for years, but you don't really know her." Fred smirked with an air of victory. "Not like I know her, at least."
"Rutherford, I should bounce you out of here on your ear!" Nelson's hands drew into tight fists as his jaw clinched in anger.
"You do feel threatened, don't you, Nelson?" Fred asked smugly. "It's written all over your face. Well, I can assure you that if you truly cared enough about her to listen to her and accept her for the woman she is, you wouldn't have lost her."
"I haven't lost her!" Not yet.
"Nelson, are you still here?" Leticia asked in annoyance as she slowly came down the stairs, dressed for her dinner date with Fred. "Why do you keep doing this to yourself---to me?"
"Darling, I love you," Nelson explained as he looked up to watch her descend the staircase. "I've always loved you. You're my wife. I just can't let the wonderful life we've shared together just slip through my fingers." He paused as she reached the foot of the stairs and took in her elegant and stately beauty. "Darling, you look breathtaking. Why don't you make a change in plans and go out with me this evening? You have no idea how honored I'd be to be seen in your company."
"N-Nelson, I...I don't know what to say," she blushed slighted, completely taken off guard by his comments. "I'm...flattered, but..."
"But she already has plans with me," Fred spoke up as he reached out to take Leticia's hand so that he could direct her to his side. "I do have to agree with Nelson, dear. You look wonderful."
"Thank you, Fred," Leticia smiled as she bowed her head in genuine modesty. "I've...really been looking forward to tonight."
"You see, Nelson," Fred smirked, "she's going out with me. Why don't you save yourself a lot of trouble and frustration and just pack it in and head back to your lofty apartment in New York. There's only room for one of us in her life."
"She's my wife!"
"That's only a temporary technicality," Fred reminded. "She's divorcing you! Or have you forgotten?"
"You're the one who's a temporary technicality!" Nelson spat. "It's only matter of time before she sees you for the sleazy gigolo that you are and then your game will be over!"
"I've had about enough of this," Leticia spoke up sternly and threw up her hands to separate the two men in her life. "Nelson, why do you have to keep doing this? Why can't you be a man and accept the inevitable? What we had is over!"
"It will never be over!" Nelson's eyes blazed with anger and frustration. "You're my wife! You will always be my wife!"
"Nelson, please stop doing this to me!" Leticia begged as she tried to fight back her tears. "Why can't you just let me go and let me by happy?"
"Look what you're doing to her?" Fred ordered sternly. "Look! I think it's time for you to leave."
"W-what?" Nelson stammered in shock. "You're throwing me out? Of my own wife's home?"
"I don't think that I stuttered!" Fred spat. "You're not wanted here. Now get out!"
"I am not leaving!"
"Oh, please, Nelson, just go!" Leticia sobbed.
"You heard the lady," Fred said firmly as he grabbed Nelson by the arm and began to drag him towards the door. "Get out!"
Stunned and incredulous, Nelson came to a stop outside as the door slammed loudly behind him. Fred had the gall and the audacity to throw him out! As he spun around to glare at the closed door, his face burned with a mixture of rage and jealousy. There was no way in hell he was going to let that low class doctor woo Leticia and scam her our of her money. With steely determination, Nelson vowed that it would be a cold day in hell before he ever let that happen.
Meanwhile, inside, Fred took Leticia into his warm and supportive arms. Although he was giving her tender support and reassurance, his own head was filled with intense thoughts. He was quickly beginning to realize that Nelson Stokes would prove to be a much more formidable adversary than he'd once thought. His effect of Leticia was clear evidence of that. Maybe it wasn't going to be so easy to get his hands on the Stokes fortune as he'd once thought. Maybe he had to step up his plans and take more drastic actions.
TO BE CONTINUED
A surprising alliance is revealed.
For Now and Forever
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